Sunday, March 01, 2009

Redoing automobile distribution - the very old is new again

My parents live in the old country - Quebec. GrandCentral means frequent free cell phone calls to my mother, but Dad's not keen on phone conversation. I catch up with him every few months. This weekend that means learning lessons from the early 20th century.

That's how I learned that cars were once sold without the back seats -- in order to save costs. More importantly, after WW II, while factories were converting to consumer production, consumers ordered automobiles and waited for delivery.

Hmm. I recall there was some interest in the 90s in just-in-time custom auto manufacturing and online ordering, but it died with the .com crash. That doesn't mean it won't return -- most big changes have several false starts.

Maybe the way we sell automobiles, like the the way we've sold written news, is an anachronism due for an ending.

Maybe after the wreckage is done, and most of big auto is gone, we'll start selling, manufacturing and distributing cars in a new old way. Or perhaps a need to rapidly upgrade to low carbon technology will favor leased vehicles with reusable components...

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