In today’s world, consumption is everything. It keeps the economy spinning. But when it involves big things like cars, it is often very, very unsustainable.
The problem for cars is that they can quickly become outdated. Such is the pace of development in infotainment and headlight technology that in just two years a model can look old and lack several technical features. This spurs on people to buy a new one, which is great for the economy but - because of the energy and resources needed to produce a car - bad for the world.
However, Tesla might have just solved half of that problem, because it has announced that all of its models are being fitted with hardware for the future. Every car that rolls off a Tesla production line is equipped with parts that can receive software upgrades via over-the-air updates.
Not only does this allow problems to be fixed wirelessly but it also means that, as software progresses, each car can be updated to keep up with the latest models. Admittedly, this has been happening for some time to a certain level, but only this week has Tesla started fitting its models with new, comprehensive hardware sets that will one day – once software is developed – enable a fully autonomous Autopilot mode.
This is big news. Firstly, because Tesla looks to be at the front of the field to produce the world’s first fully autonomous production vehicle and, secondly, because it means old Teslas can be updated to keep up with newer products. The result is that even after a few years of ownership, a car can have the same software and features as a brand-new one.
Of course, the idea is nothing new. Smartphones like the iPhone have been receiving updates to keep them current for years. But in the world of cars, this is unheard of. And if it works for Tesla, you’d have to imagine it’s only a matter of time before others follow.
If they do, this future-proofing of cars could one day mean owning a car with a few years under its wheels will be a very different experience. And the resultant slowing of disposal rates will only be a positive thing for the world.