AI, Eh?

By Tony Moorby June 22, 2018


Artificial Intelligence can have different connotations – not real or humanly contrived and driven by continuously up-dated data but when a Volvo drives into the median or a Tesla forgets to apply the brakes it becomes “not really intelligent but bloody dangerous.”

I recognize that new technologies have their risks and costs – even unto taking lives, but letting extremely developmental cars out on public roads in California, Arizona or anywhere is cavalier in the extreme.

It seems to me that safety is being prostituted in the rush for fame and fortune for, what will inevitably be, an everyday function of life and travel in the future. It would appear that, in spite of all the technology, we’re at the equivalent of sailing to the horizon without knowing whether we’ll drop off the edge of the world or not.

Perhaps the insurance companies will argue the toss as to who will bear the ultimate liabilities to the families who’ve lost loved ones at the behest of an uncommonly expensive robot. The deepest pockets are the usual suspects, regardless of responsibility.

For the used-vehicle distributors, sales of these machines are going to bring some interesting posers. Fear of the unknown normally drives down prices – we see that for any product in any market and whilst it’s going to take a while for these machines to percolate to the sharp end of bidding and pricing, there will surely come a time when the rubber meets the road (or whatever they’re riding on then). Descriptions and condition reports will have a whole new meaning and probably be downloadable to a dealer who has already placed the vehicle to a nailed-on buyer. Vehicle history reports will probably depend on telemetry readouts – how many cyclists have been nearly too close for comfort.

The NIADA has a huge agenda to get through in Orlando this year, encompassing a very well organized breakout schedule to suit the newly enlarged audience. Perhaps next year they’ll take a look at the remarketing responsibilities that will fall to their members to sell robotic autonomous cars and trucks.

Figuring out the value of a two-year-old Volvo that’s never had a warm posterior grace the driver’s seat is going to be a bit of a conundrum; the car probably had a tax rebate from Uncle Sam to get it on the road, the manufacturer will, more-than-likely, have given a hefty “rebate” to get a new ass in the passenger seat – the marketing intervention could get really kinky here.

Imagine four thousand autonomous fleet cars being plonked down into a Florida market. Believe me, we’ve been there before – I remember Budget’s floating fleet of 1982 Mercury Crown Vics being dumped in their own backyard or Hewlett Packard’s vehicles being let loose on unsuspecting markets. It took a great deal of planning to evenly distribute their cars so that Ford’s residual values didn’t collapse. Tom Cunningham from Ford had the foresight to carefully arrange their spread.

Anyone taking bets on some fairly “colorful” deals to get new fleet autonomous cars into usage without thinking of the backend values? That VP will have been promoted to some junior Board position before the thick, brown, sticky stuff hits the rotating oscillator! The new guy will have his career tarnished for not matching the residuals at sale time and will probably be relegated to fleet warrantee administration!

An old Chinese curse suggests, “May you live in interesting times.” It would behoove all our related businesses making up the vehicle redistribution business to have a plan to address this misty future in close and abiding consultation with those who may think that going it alone is the best and most rewarding policy.

Last modified on Friday, 22 June 2018 21:40

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