Wednesday, 3 December 2014

From Motoring to Mobility

Cars, or should I say Automobiles, were one of the obsessions of my generation. As children, boys and girls alike poured over Observer's Books. We collected Matchbox Toys, Dinky Toys, Corgi Toys. We were given a pedal car as a special present. We helped Mum and Dad wash their cars (by hand) and watched the neighbours polishing up their cars. On Sundays, it wasn't unusual to go out for a drive. Not to get from A to B but simply for the whole family to enjoy motoring.

The automobiles in those days were works of art - beautiful and characterful - and those still running can make us gasp today. And a few years later, in the 80s and early 90s, success was measured by what you managed to land as a company car, as well as the size of your wage packet.

Children these days still play with cars, of course, and brands such as Hot Wheels, which I remember from my childhood, are still with us. But there has been a fundamental shift in the way we think about cars - as a means to an end rather than an end in itself.

In the same way that many younger people these days don't have a landline, more and more young people, particularly those in cities, don't own a car. The car-sharing market, made possible by technology, is booming. Car-sharing, whereby one can set up an account, rather like a phone account, and have almost instant access to vehicles on a pay-by-trip basis has been driven (arf, arf) largely by companies of German-speaking origin. Brands like the Swiss Mobility and car2go - recently arrived in Frankfurt - are leading the way.

As trends go, Car-sharing ticks plenty of boxes. There's the meshing of the real and virtual world, the sharing economy, urbanisation, sustainability and so on. It's also a way for established brands - both car manufacturers and traditional car rental companies - to refresh their image and to be at the forefront of innovation.

Who knows - maybe one of these brands will introduce Classic Car Sharing, combining the dreams of childhood with the technology of today.


Barbara Fisher said...

Hi Sue, I used to love receiving Observer books when I was a child. I had a large collection but have no idea what happened to them.
I like the idea of car sharing but would really prefer a chauffeur! I’ve always liked the idea of sitting in the back seat of a limo with my driver up front – it would take a lottery win, but it just might happen one day.

Sue Imgrund said...

I think you were Lady Penelope in another life!