The Automobile Industry

Submitted by Nicole Goetz
on 03/01/18

The automobile industry is always changing to meet the advanced needs that their consumers are demanding and this has been done for centuries so that automobile sales can be kept up with. Up until the mid-1900’s, cars were being built with strong and rigid backbone structures because it was believed to be safer, while on the contrary, it was not. According to Newton’s third law, every action has an equal and opposite reaction so if cars from those times were going 40 mph, all that energy reacted directly back on the bodies in the car, since the car itself did not crumble and absorb any of the energy. After researching this, engineer Béla Barényi then patented crumple zones. These crumple zones were on the car which had materials in the car absorb the energy and dissipate it rather than having all the energy being transferred directly to the passengers in the car. Instead of strengthening the outer parts of the car, the inner parts became more rigid with materials such as beams and steel.

In the 21st century, new trends such as car sharing services like Uber or Lyft are being created along cars that will have computerized driving. These new services allow users to click a button on an app and have on-demand access to a vehicle for a short period of time. All you must do is create an account and link a credit card and then you’re good to go. From a personal analysis of reasons for use, people mainly use these car services they either do not want to find parking, do not have a car, or are planning on consuming alcohol and do not want to drive while inebriated. In each of these cases, there is little to no risk of not purchasing a car. In each of these cases, there is a special occasion why one can not or does not want to drive and therefore may still be desired to purchase a car.

With these emerging trends, many groups have decided to do studies of the impact of ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber on the environment, number of taxi rides, but most importantly, its impact on the rate of automotive sales. The analysts of groups have drastically differing views ranging from the notion that these car services will dramatically lower automotive sales to being able to create a jackpot of revenue for these companies. The Center for Automotive Research conducted an analysis in August of 2016 and released ‘The White Paper’ to release their analysis. One of their main points is that this shift will be responsible for losses in sales of vehicles but they’re likely to be minuscule compared to the number of transactions that occur every year in every country. What they believe will be the greatest impact “will not be on the volume of vehicle sales, but… how customers interact with vehicles”. By this, they mean that expectations for what vehicles can do and how vehicles can be used will be altered, but people will still overall want to purchase their own vehicle. The biggest opportunity that they pose for the auto industry is partnerships between these on-the-go services and bigger automobile firms. For example, Uber now offers a lease program where you can drive people around and the salary you get from that helps pay off the car you are trying to lease, therefore this helps those automotive companies too. Also, new revenue sources can be created from these companies that aren’t DIRECTLY related to automobile purchases. Pete Bigelow, Associate Editor for Autoblog, explains how in 2016 General Motors recently invested $500 million and even launched Maven, its own car-sharing company, so they’re taking advantage of these new car sharing services.

Sometimes we are blinded by the qualitative things that people say that we don’t pay enough attention to qualitative data. The number of people using car-sharing services and the cost of ride-sharing also has an impact on whether or not the automotive industry will take a hit. The Technalysis Research conducted a survey of 1,000 US consumers who had to own a car and expect to buy one over two years. They found that a huge portion of the US population hasn’t really been exposed to carsharing services anyways. 57% have never even used a car-sharing service and 23% have used it once or twice. Therefore, ride-sharing users are a minority. As I said before, those who use the services use it for special circumstances and they found that 75% of them saw it as only for times such as when they consume alcohol, traveling, etc.. So technically only 5% of the total population who actually use services such as Uber or Lyft use it “more than occasionally”. Therefore, more users might choose to use these mobility services on special occasions, but the impact it has on the purchase of automobiles is that companies can find a way to make these automobiles more efficient and affordable.

Each year, more than 2 million people are injured and more than 32,000 people are killed in motor vehicle crashes. Each day in the United States roughly 90 people die from motor vehicle crashes and every second, minute, month, or year, the rates of fatality in the United States from motor vehicle crashes rise. Reducing injuries or even fatalities must be a public health concern and is a personal concern of mine, but one must look at the causes of these crashes. The top culprits include drunk driving, speeding, texting, and not wearing your seatbelt. Each of these causes leads us to the same conclusion: recklessness. In each of these scenarios, there is someone driving behind a wheel who either does not have the capacity to think clearly or is thinking clearly and making the wrong choice. While we can suggest wearing seat belts, choosing not to drive impaired, or driving without distractions, the real solution is adding safety features to cars that will cut down on injuries when a car crash occurs. My solution, or safety feature that I believe should be added, would be able to eliminate this recklessness without requiring much thinking by the drivers.

The strangest thing nowadays is the lack of skid marks on the roads when collisions occur, due to the fact that those texting and driving don’t give themselves enough time to even brake. The problem that needs to be addressed is that the time of impact between cars needs to be increase assuming there is a crash. The perfect solution for this is that all cars should be magnetized. If cars ever got close to one another (an algorithm can compare the distance between the two cars and the velocity that they’re going at), before an actual physical collision could occur, you’d have a magnetic force slow down the cars. Since “opposites attract”, all cars would be standardized so that the front end and back end of cars would have magnets of different polarity and the cars would repel and not be able to get close enough to each other. Of course, this means that a greater relationship would need to be created between car companies but with the safety in mind of millions of drivers and passengers, the benefits would be enormous.

Submitted by Nicole Goetz
on 03/01/18

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