In vignette two, we get some right, we get some wrong. Our experts weigh in on how transportation rolls on in this future.
I think you’re going to have jobs in the downtowns. I think there’ll just be fewer of them and they’ll have to be skewed more towards very young and higher income. Some parts of urban culture will remain. There will be some form of hybridization in the suburbs where we will have a kind of downtown walking environment. It won’t be public-transit-oriented. It will still be car-, walking- or bike-based. People will take a car, park and then walk around. There will be people in positions of power who are going to want to have things centralized in San Francisco and New York but the workforce might have different ideas. Even if there are not as many people doing that, they will still be able to do that. We’ll muddle our way is probably the most likely thing that will happen, because if I was to criticize anything in my own work, it is that I underestimate inertia.
Author, urban theorist
As consumers’ fear towards public transit increases, a personal vehicle becomes a safe alternative—a protective bubble from the world around. What that vehicle looks like may be drastically different than six months ago. With economical concerns, the base model, affordable option is likely to make a comeback. But with more luxury models, the interior of the vehicle will likely become more and more a ‘safe space.’ Air purifying upgrades, cleansing systems, continued focus on touchless displays, and calming sanctuary upgrades to ease an anxious world will also be more in demand. I’m hopeful to see more of these upgrades, as the base model is not nearly as fun!
Vice president, Ipsos Creative Excellence and Brands
With the uncertainty of the economy and job market, there will be conservative spending on large investments and new business models until there is more stability. As a result, change to the new transportation approaches will be slow to take root and will delay the progression. Focus will be on the short term for cities, public transportation and auto manufacturers, such as ensuring each of their areas are safe to use and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. The primary vehicle has an unique advantage as the environment is controlled by the owner. This could also mean a low-tech closing of streets on a more volunteer basis and not really be organized and/or planned. This can lead to trial behavior change and usage on the weekend of popular inner-city streets. But, at a minimum, this will be a start of what the transformation can look like. I see the “winners” in this using this to take advantage of the trial opportunities of new services and approaches which can enable new behaviors to take root. This includes autonomous delivery and a need of more advanced driver-assist features, including pedestrian identification and avoidance. This will help the adoption of full autonomous solutions by having these usage experiences. Plus, we will see a strong desire for alternative powertrains, such as full-battery electric vehicles that combines nicely with the most advanced vehicles and can take advantage of the existing federal and state government incentives to purchase the vehicles. We also see a continued uncomfortableness of a portion of the population willing to go out and purchase or have their vehicle serviced. There will be increased demand and willingness to do all of the vehicle transactions online. This opens up a new service model with door-to-door test drives, vehicle delivery and even vehicle pick-up for service.
Senior vice president, Ipsos Auto & Mobility
Here, we see manufacturer and dealer incentives preventing the automotive industry from previous lows associated with the Great Recession. Such programs as “cash for clunkers” and “employee pricing for all” help dealers and manufacturers avoid getting to dire cash-flow issues. Here, we could see government support in the form of low-interest loans to automotive companies and dealers through these times, as long as they maintain certain employment requirements and commit to keeping manufacturing within the United States. Stronger bailouts will likely not be acceptable to the general public or Congress, given that it is not that long ago that the auto industry went through this process. Some of the global manufacturer alliances, where there are pre-existing tensions across country borders and brands, will come under strain given that governments prefer to incentivize headquarters within their own country. These alliances will need to work out ways to assure governments that benefits received by the automakers benefit their countries and employment rosters.
Ipsos US Automotive Quality Practice Leader
Autonomous vehicle development continues at a steady pace, but rollout is limited to certain freeway lanes with limited access and certain central business districts for commuters. Acceptance of key autonomous features, such as lane-keeping assistance, will continue to grow with consumers appreciating the convenience that it provides, even if it cannot be used in all situations. Development of enhanced vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communications will enable limited self-parking and other opportune autonomous features. Major OEMs will provide electric powertrain options on almost all their major models, and more electric powertrain-dedicated models will come into the market. Manufacturers and the federal government will increase collaboration on nationwide fast-charging network standards and locations that make it easier to utilize EVs and go on road trips with them.
Senior vice president, Ipsos Automotive Advisory