I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine. His name is George Jetson. George works for Spaceley Sprockets, and his wife is Jane. They have two children, daughter Judy and their boy, Elroy. They live in a space-age home that has every modern convenience you can think of: a computer that talks and does everything needed to run the house; a vacuum that vacuums itself around the house; and a refrigerator that dispenses food and drinks. George’s vehicle is a neat job with a big bubble for a top. Yes, the Jetsons appear to have it all. And to think this was all dreamt up in the early 1960s for TV.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “Wow, just like on ‘The Jetsons,’ it’s a reality!” Yes, it’s true. Many of the things that seemed crazy on that show have become reality, most of them in the last 20 or so years. But wait, this is 2016. It’s been over 40 years since those things were created for TV. Elroy is over 50, and George is pushing 80 at least. I’ve been to many very informative meetings lately and heard many very bright people talk about what’s in store for our business and all the changes that are on the way. We’re going to have more data from telematics than we’ll know what to do with. Our parts are going to be delivered direct from the assembly line via a drone. Cars will drive themselves and self-diagnose their problems. And all of this will be made capable by our friends, the computers. I don’t know about you, but this is all sounding a lot like another computer named HAL. As I remember, he did not end up being such a great guy in the end, but that’s another 60s movie.
I guess my point is yes, we will experience change. It’s the one constant in this world. Yes, it will accelerate. Yes, the above technologies will eventually be upon us, and our industry will accept and adapt to them. My question is when? It took George’s world 40-plus years to get to us. In the meantime, what do we do?
The way I see it, we make parts, distribute parts, and repair vehicles the way we do it today and keep the 240 million vehicles out there on the road. It’s what we do! People design cars. It still takes us to build them. We still diagnose them and repair them. People get us the parts and bring them to us. If we get all tangled up in what may happen and when, this country will grind to a halt.
In the meantime, let’s do this. And I better see you at NACE | CARS in August!