At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, which is currently being held in Las Vegas, Ford Motor Company President and CEO Jim Hackett gave a keynote address, laying out an optimistic vision for how connectivity and autonomy will revamp transportation in the future, and facilitate a complete transformation of our urban centers. The same themes and concepts were shared in a Medium essay penned by the executive, which on the whole, did a great job of illustrating the intended outcome of Ford’s bid on self-driving cars and cellular vehicle-to-everything communications.
But if there is a shortcoming to this vision of the future, it’s that it can only exist on paper – at least for now. In order for the vehicles of the future to ferry customers about quickly and autonomously, all making use of vast quantities of data to take a huge bite out of congestion, slash inefficiency, and virtually eliminate the risk of a crash, a number of massive steps must first be taken. Consumers will need to embrace the sharing economy. Cities will have to overhaul their infrastructure at great expense. The autonomous vehicle will have to reach production-ready status.
In other words, it’s a seductive vision for the future, but one that is likely many, many decades out of reach, at the least.
As Edmunds‘ Executive Director of Industry Analysis, Jessica Caldwell, said: “Ford’s vision for the smart city is an interesting premise, but at this point it’s not much more than that. Bringing this smart city to reality will require significant municipal cooperation and investment, and it remains to be seen if local governments share Ford’s ambitions. It’s admirable that Ford is taking a philosophical approach and is looking at how connected vehicles can change society for the better, however, this future is a long way off. In the meantime, Ford has an opportunity to better articulate how they’re going to improve the lives of car shoppers today.”
Consumers and analysts hoping for something a bit more tangible from Ford might have to wait. At the moment, the automaker seems more preoccupied with the distant future.