Automotive era
Car guru: end of automotive era

The end of the automotive era is approaching, ringing the death knell for the performance car, according to one of the men who was responsible for bringing us that very era.

Bob Lutz is the former vice-chairman and head of product development for General Motors, and was a champion of GM’s Australian arm, Holden.

Writing for the prestigious American journal, Automotive News, Lutz has called the end to the era he spent a lifetime building.

"It saddens me to say it, but we are approaching the end of the automotive era,” he writes.

"The auto industry is on an accelerating change curve. For hundreds of years, the horse was the prime mover of humans and for the past 120 years it has been the automobile.

"Now we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules.”

Lutz says that in the future when we want transport, a module will arrive at your door and transport you to your destination without any input other than you entering your destination, and paying for the trip.

"The vehicles, however, will no longer be driven by humans because in 15 to 20 years — at the latest — human-driven vehicles will be legislated off the highways,” he says.

"The tipping point will come when 20 to 30 percent of vehicles are fully autonomous. Countries will look at the accident statistics and figure out that human drivers are causing 99.9 percent of the accidents.”

He says that performance brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi will disappear because performance won’t count any more.

The same for styling. Modules will have to be designed functionally so that they can couple together in a peloton and be free of wind resistance.

Car retailing will disappear, except as a fringe business for vintage cars.

The art of driving will disappear, except on private courses, that like today’s golf clubs, people will be able to visit and play with cars for a few hours.