Like Ford, it will adapt to future challenges by becoming a purveyor of mobility and not just a car company.
Ask a futurist about how they see the automotive landscape in 100 years and you’re almost guaranteed to hear visions of self-driving electric Ubers picking up the majority of the population that will subscribe to its ride services. By that point, they’ll say, hardly anyone will own a car, and the cars that are made will be built by one of the few automakers that survived the sales crunch due to the fact that one car could service many customers. Cars in this time will be sold in bulk to large rideshare companies that can negotiate ever-lower prices or threaten to build their own.
That’s the kind of future automakers like Ford and BMW are preparing for, no matter how hellish it sounds. It’s not, however, the direction you’d expect a company like Aston Martin to take.
But that’s precisely what it’ll do, at least according to what its chief planning officer Nikki Rimmington told an audience at the Driving the Future event in London, claims Autocar. At the event, Rimmington told the audience that Aston Martin is not only ready to confront a future dominated by autonomous rideshare-owned vehicles, but thrive in it.
"If you look at autonomy it opens up all sorts of possibilities, of which one of the most appealing is being able to get around faster if the systems are there to support it. Owners could live more remotely but travel in faster,” said Rimmington. "But we might also consider opportunities around shared use of cars. Attitudes are changing: for some, owning a car that sits there stationary, losing value most of the time is less desirable, and the prospect of getting in a car that might be a bit untidy from the previous occupant isn’t a deal-breaker. That could be an opportunity.”
Rimmington said she expects those challenges to arise from the densification of cities, given that studies have shown how 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050. So how will Aston Martin survive in that kind of future? By selling cars to well-heeled customers more indirectly - delivering to more exclusive rideshare services and luxury hotels whose customers may want to be shuttled around in style.
"In a busier urban environment than today it might make sense for high-end hotels or businesses to run fleets of autonomous cars, for instance,” said Rimmington. "Those vehicles could still be hugely personalized to the brands they represent, as we’re used to at Aston Martin, so there is absolutely a role for us to play.”