Why are cars interesting anyway?
Part 1: A short analysis of the car market
People fall in love with each other. Half of the books and movies are about how we fall in love. The other half about broken love... People are endlessly complex with all kinds of colors. It’s easy and hard at the same time to love someone.
But sometimes we don’t fall in love with a person, but with a thing. And the thing we most love are cars. It seems easier to love a thing…
But why on earth should one love a thing? Aren’t cars just products? Well, the first thing is that cars are the product of human effort and imagination. And it’s not just any thing. You can’t build a car on a Sunday afternoon. A car is the most complex product in the world, sprung out of the minds of engineers and designers.
A car is complex, because it has many parts. Not tens of parts, but thousands of parts. Mechanical parts, electric parts and increasingly digital parts. But it’s not the parts we love, but the whole package. Cars are first of all practical things that bring us from A to B. This fact however leads to a lot of individual freedom. It’s empowering.
Thus, we have hundreds of things in our home, but the thing we love most stands outside. And that’s another thing that makes it so fascinating, that it’s not a museum object. It moves through space and time, and by this it must be able to withstand rain and wind, dust and dirt.
Cars are about arriving at an unknown destination, cars are about the thrill of speed, cars are about races, about design and emotions. And of course about technological frontiers.
The moose test
I personally got interested in cars when I was around fourteen. It was the mid-nineties. The biggest progress around that time was made in safety. The bodywork received crumple zones. ABS became common, and we saw airbags popping up everywhere. From passengers airbags to side airbags.
On October 21, 1997 we also saw the Mercedes A-Class failing on the ‘Moose’ test. A car reporter Robert Collin from the motor magazine Teknikens Värld overturned the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class that day. This however lead to another breakthrough by Mercedes with the electronic stability control (ECS), now in almost every car. Exciting, I thought at the time.
Since then, the auto industry has not become duller. On contrary, cars developed further into more and more complex things. Developed by thousands of passionate people all over the planet. A lot of new body works saw the light of day. SUV’s and Crossovers. Sold into all kind of colors. (Though unfortunately people still buy most of the time black and gray)
The last decade we saw a lot of digitalization. From car navigation, media centers towards autopilots. And of course the shift from gasoline engine towards electric engine. The world is changing fast and so do cars. It’s an interesting time.
In this series on the car market we will pass by some current car topics, like to rise of classic cars, digitalization, EV’s, British car industry, German car design, autonomous cars and the world beyond cars. Enjoy!