Car 1.0, Warrior explained, reigned from the 1900s to the 1970s. There was innovation in the fields of mechanical and hydraulic systems, and automotive companies were led by mechanical engineers.
In the 1970s came Car 2.0, as electronic systems came to prominence and were combined with mechanical engineering in a field christened ‘mechatronics’.
We’re still in this era, but Warrior said the industry is on the cusp of a seismic shift, the kind of which has already occurred in the personal computer and mobile phone industries.
It’s not before time. Warrior pulled no punches, describing the computing technology installed in our current cars as being on a par with a “dial-up modem” in terms of sophistication, and even going as far as calling cars themselves as “a waste of our time”, at least as far as commuting in cities is concerned.
If this sounds surprisingly negative for the boss of a car company, it’s worth considering some of the statistics she uses to reinforce her statements.
“A recent report by [consulting firm] McKinsey says that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in cities and mega-cities,” she said. “This just means that mobility and the transportation systems that we currently have will become even more critical.”
Now the good news: Warrior doesn’t see a future without cars. She maintains that they are, and will continue to be, products that most of us aspire to own.
“In the US, people spend approximately 30% of their income on cars,” she said, and the figure is even higher in other regions. “In most emerging nations, a person’s first pay cheque is spent on a car.
“The car fundamentally means freedom. People need great mobility and they have done for centuries. We will continue to do this.”
What is evident is that the car is going to have to radically change to reduce the effects of pollution and to negate the amount of injuries caused by human error – currently at fault in around 90% of all traffic according to Warrior’s research.
“The bottom line is that the commute equals misery,” she said. “Studies show commuting and traffic lead to a lot of health issues: stress, high blood pressure, depression, obesity, suicidal tendencies, in addition to the pollution that these cars cause. This is a major problem we face, but these things can be fixed.”
Warrior’s vision hinges on designing a car that can give owners back the time they currently spend in traffic jams. This means letting the car do the driving on the way to and from work.