Detroit muscle could be the cockroach that survives the automotive nuclear holocaust.
When one door closes, another one opens. At least that's what we tell ourselves to feel better when we miss an opportunity in life. However, there are some downsides to that philosophy. Our greatest fear about autonomous cars has been that the metaphorical opening of that door would mean closing the door on driver-oriented sports cars. We'd mourn that death greatly if it were to happen, but we, along with Ford's UK Marketing Director Lisa Brankin, don't think that's what the future looks like.
Speaking with Autocar, Brankin talked about the future of the Mustang. She mentioned how the sales phenomenon will never die out, especially in a future filled with autonomous cars precisely because the pony car offers something that self-driving cars never could: high horsepower driving bliss at a bargain price. "I'd like to think that people in the future will still want a fun car like a Mustang for the weekend," she said. "I can't really imagine a time when Ford doesn't produce a V8 Mustang." According to Lisa, even when cars that can take a trip from point A to point B by themselves are out and roaming the streets, consumers who like to do the driving themselves would still opt to buy sports cars.
They would keep them around as toys and fashion statements, although this doesn't necessarily mean that these buyers would forgo autonomous cars. Ford is working on a driverless car set to hit the roads in 2021, but despite a recent slackening in sales, the demand will never dry up. "I don't believe fully autonomous cars will be on our roads in any big number for at least another decade. When it comes, it won't come all at once. Driverless cars won't be everywhere straight away." This gap of time might be the last opportunity that muscle car fans have to purchase Mustangs and the like before they are consumed by self-driving cars and iron-tight fuel economy standards.
However, we have hope for the simple reason that the love of cars will never abandon us. Instead, we may begin to see autonomous cars become the primary focus of the market with automakers focusing on attractive, fast, and driver-focused sports cars to satisfy the demand for a pleasing Sunday drive.