Electric cars are the MP3s before Spotify

Electric cars are the MP3s you've owned before you've switched to Spotify. Technically sophisticated, astonishing but in the end a bridge technology right before it becomes a commodity. Technology is always at its peak before it becomes a commodity. No one cares if Spotify uses MP3 or some other format, what matters is the music. No one will care what technology a car uses, what matters is the convenience getting from A to B. There are still Hifi enthusiasts around, who own vinyl, but they are a tiny majority of people. There will be people owning a sophisticated electric car, but the majority of people will not care.

When I've first seen MP3s in the 90s, I thought this will be huge. Ripping my CDs, listening with WinAmp to MP3s on my hard drive, I was in heaven. So much more convenient than switching CDs, so many more songs. Friends of mine had huge MP3 collections swapped over the internet. Not that my parents cared about MP3s, they kept listening to their CD collection.

Then there were MP3 players and I remember my first iPod with it's 5gb hard drive. All the music I would ever need always with me. What wonder is this? The short blossom of MP3 players from Apple, Microsoft, Creative, Rio and SanDisk followed. MP3 players are still sold, in the cheap no-name section of Amazon, but they are no longer made of dreams.

Today music is a commodity I get from Apple, Amazon or Spotify. People don't care about the technology. People don't want to own stuff. Renting stuff will get you more to consume at lower prices with more convenience and faster upgrade cycles.

Electric cars are the same. The pinnacle of technology right before it becomes a commodity. There is a lot of talk on how GM, BMW and VW are threatened by Tesla and how they don't have sophisticated electric cars. And while they are threatened, it's not by Tesla but by cars and transport becoming a commodity. The share economy is right around the corner and cars will be shared. Hail a car with your app, the AI driving the car finds you, stops, you get into the car and having already entered the destination it will drive you there. Billing will be the same flat rate as Spotify, why care about payments? Convenience has been driving technological progress for thousands of years, convenience will drive cars to a commodity.

Technology starts as an idea by a few people. They build the prototypes and do the research. It grows and becomes custom build. You tell someone to build it for you. Then it becomes a product. You go to a shop and buy it - or order it over the internet. Then it becomes a commodity. Power was invented - or discovered, batteries custom build, transformers bought and then it became a commodity you get from the plug in your wall. With computers it was the same. Zuse Z1, Colossus, ENIAC were built by their inventors, then IBM sold custom build machines, then you went to the shop to get one or ordered from Dell. Now the main part of computing is a commodity companies get from Amazon, Google or Microsoft or that you get from your phone as a service.

Cars are a huge investment for many people. But they are highly underutilized. If you use your car for two hours a day then you use it 8% of it's time. Or the other way around it's idling 92% of the time. Restriction to city centers has started and with the discussion of air and noise pollution by cars their access to city centers will be restricted even further. The higher costs for access do and will increase the costs of having a car. 60% of costs for cabs are from the driver. AI driven cars will make those much cheaper than buying your own.

Then there are all those other threats to car companies: Cars no longer being a status symbol or a symbol of freedom, remote work which leads to less commuting and electric scooters for short drives.

Electric cars will boom, just as everyone wanted to use MP3. That blossom will be short and the sharing economy will take over, cars becoming a commodity like power or compute before. Private car ownership will stop and many car companies will die. We already live in peak car in some countries, the peak of cars being achieved. From now on the amount of cars owned goes down. This will kill many car companies, and together with the easier to build electric cars which needs less suppliers and parts, will free a lot of labor. It's not clear to government yet how to deal with the coming apocalypse of jobs. Most stick their head in the sand.

Car companies are under threat, but not from Tesla. Daimler and BMW are building the world's largest car sharing company, GM is closing plants and will start a robo-taxi service, VW started with car sharing in Berlin with a whopping 1500 cars on start day and plans a minibus sharing service with a 1000 buses in Hamburg. Competition heats up with Uber and Lyft in the mix. Car companies might survive, the jobs won't.