This feeds into the growing ethos at Ford, and elsewhere, for more corporate responsibility – that a car company is no longer responsible merely for building cars, but for using their products to improve people’s lives. Which makes capital sense – if cars are going to become less about driving and more about being driven, then the experience is less about being involved with the product and more about being freed up from it to pursue other interests. “Everyone in the company [Ford] is trying to make people’s lives better”, Connelly told me last month. “I’ve been with the company for 20 years and I think this is the most transformative moment. Bill Ford, in a TED talk, said he had finally come to the point that he worried what would happen if Ford continued to build as many cars as possible. In Beijing now, the average commute is five hours a day. So how do you move people round in a way that doesn’t involve one person, one car?”
Ford, Mercedes, and the rest, are all looking at car sharing, car pooling, dynamic shuttles and apps in a major way, to bring together the larger ecosystem of moving individuals around transport systems shared by the multitude.
May we live in interesting times.