Ex-GM president: Car era is coming to an endDecember 12, 2019
Road transport has changed the 20th century, but it’s time to find a better solution: that would not kill a million people every year and would not pollute the air. And preferably without traffic jams. Former GM president Dan Amman, after working for a year at Cruise, is confident that transport should be like this: similar to a personal car from the outside, but completely different in content.
Forecasts about the imminent and inevitable end of the era of personal cars are not uncommon. But in this case, everything determines the personality of the speaker: this is the ex-president of General Motors Dan Amman, in which the once largest car concern went through bankruptcy and was reborn. Amman himself resigned GM a year ago as CEO of Cruise, the creator of robomobiles and a roboidsharing service, which after the last round of investment is valued at $ 20 billion. For comparison: GM itself under the leadership of Mary Barra costs about $ 50 billion. She already promised that everything Group cars will become electric. But Amman says that this is only a small part of the necessary transformation.
“In order to improve transport by an order of magnitude, rather than gradually, we need to create alternatives that are in every way superior to the current [means of transport],” he stressed in a program post published on the Medium platform.
He describes the current state of transport as follows. “Imagine a man came to you and said:“ I came up with a new transport, it runs on fossil fuels and pollutes the atmosphere. It will flood our cities to such an extent that its users will cause fury. And drivers will make mistakes by killing 40,000 Americans — and more than a million people around the world — every year. Most of the time the equipment will not be used, occupying garages and increasing housing costs. Transport can not be used by young, elderly, as well as people with disabilities. For the rest, this privilege will cost $ 9,000 a year and take two years of life [in traffic jams]. ” You answer this amazing offer: “Yes, you’re crazy.” And yet, we live in a state of cognitive dissonance with this very thing – a human-driven gasoline car with one passenger – as the main mode of transportation. ”
Amman urges “to go beyond the car” and “go to the transport system that we deserve – safer, more accessible and better for us, for our cities and for our planet.” Its basis is electric robomobiles, just the ones Cruise is working on.
All other options solve only part of the problems. You can’t bring public transport to each quarter, micromobility is suitable only for the first and last mile, and besides, not everyone is ready to take electric scooters. And modern “ride sharing” has already made the roads more busy, and the air – dirtier. And this despite the fact that the drivers of Uber, Lyft and other similar offices are responsible for only 1% of the entire distance that cars drive in a big city during the day.
“They turned the taxi industry, but not the transport industry as a whole, because they rely heavily on the same base: a gasoline car with a human driver and one passenger,” Amman emphasizes.
Cars themselves over the past 20 years “have not fundamentally changed,” adds the ex-president of GM.
Electric romobiles solve many problems: moving will be cheaper, safer, roads will be freer, and the atmosphere in cities will be much cleaner. And if the batteries are recharged from renewable energy sources, then the carbon footprint of the industry will be reduced significantly.
There are, however, nuances that Busienss Insider draws attention to. Cruise has stepped up a test program in large cities, and in the busiest areas – there are most potential ridershipping clients of the future. But Amman says nothing about the timing of the implementation – it is only clear that the sooner the better.
In addition, the GM concern itself is now making the bulk of its money on the most massive and dirty cars – pickups and SUVs that are popular in the United States, investing about $ 1 billion annually in Cruise.
The current president of GM Mark Reis, by the way, is far from so enthusiastic even about man-driven electric vehicles – not to mention autonomous ones. He called a number of problems that interfere with their popularity.
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