Giant smartphones with motors and wheels…

According to a recent Top Gear article, BMW – amongst others – will radically overhaul the way it designs and builds cars by ~2025, liberating itself from mechanical-first architectures and moving to a software/IT-first philosophy. This is a radical change because car manufacturers have historically been great mechanical engineers, not great software/IT engineers. Tesla, of course, already uses a software/IT-first approach. Catching up means abandoning old ways and developing new capabilities, both of which involve time, money, and risk.  However, the potential profits from making cars like smartphones with motors and wheels and with an associated ecosystem are huge.  

If the mainstream car giants are moving to a software/IT-first architecture over the next few years, why buy today’s electric cars based on the old architecture?  Do people really want cars to be like giant smartphones with motors and wheels? Do people really want their cars to be full of every sensor you can imagine and the data they capture about their lives to be used by huge corporations for their own purposes? Do people want this erosion of their privacy?  Do people really want in-car cameras that can transmit video of passengers, aka Tesla? Today’s millennial, completely digital native generation are likely to answer such questions very differently to those who have more life experience.  

The Badger remembers his first car fondly. It was a simple, solid vehicle, with a small engine, a starter handle, and no plastics or software – a 1960s A35 van! It was easy to fix if it went wrong, and in driving it there was never any threat to the driver’s privacy.  Today the A35 would be a ‘Classic Car’, still as much fun to drive, and still a vehicle uncompromised by modern, connected, digital technology. The Badger feels that it is rather sad that privacy in the software/IT-first architecture cars of the future is essentially bettered by a car built 55 years ago!  We all, and millennials in particular, should worry about protecting our privacy regarding the cars of the future.  Despite an article entitled ’24 things wrong with electric cars that millennials choose to ignore’ on hotcars.com being a couple of years old, many of its points remain pertinent, but protecting privacy remains key because restoring it once it is lost is extremely difficult.

Soon there will be few new car models available that aren’t giant, software/IT-first architected, highly connected, smartphones with motors and wheels on offer. However, as the Top Gear article notes at the end, if people do not embrace this type of vehicle then the car manufacturers are stuffed! So, if your privacy is important to you in the car of the future, now is the time to think about it. The Badger has already decided; he is reverting to a classic car to relive his youth and the freedom and purity of real motoring in a car free from the software and IT of the modern world…


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