New technology tends to come on to the market at a high price. Over time, and as production becomes established, the price falls. But with giant corporations turning out 300,000 cars per year per automobile plant to cover capital production costs, what hope is there for a radically different car in today’s global market?
To put something new ‘out there’ demands a smart, flexible approach.
Selling mobility as a service
On the office wall at Riversimple HQ there is a list of ideas for crowdfunding. Underneath, a certain Capt. Sustaino (true identity unknown) has added, “ No throw away Tat.”
On another board is a busy calendar of trial days and car shows and visits from important people. 27th Oct 2015 was the first trial run of Alpha at the Royal Welsh Showground. Last week an engineering show at the National Exhibition Centre, this week a visit from the Welsh Minister for Economy and Transport, Edwina Hart. Another board hosts a disarming list of “Things we need to do better” which includes coffee beans for the kitchen and a desire to “move printer out of main office to dis-incentivise unnecessary use and save trees”. On a fourth board, stretched across the far end of the office, is Riversimple’s Customer Business Model. This model is based on two basic principles:
- A commitment to make the new car available to people at an equivalent cost of ownership to a conventional car
- A challenge to the assumption that maximising sales of new cars is king
The latter is important in terms of whole system design. If you are motivated to sell new cars, you become less inclined, for example, to use the most durable materials. Riversimple have coined the phrase “selling mobility as a service” – in other words, cars are offered as part of a service contract – of 1 to 3 years or longer term.
At a result, designing cars of excellent and lasting quality becomes good business sense; whilst the unsustainable practice of “designing for obsolescence” – in other words, deliberately designing cars that the customer will soon wish to replace – becomes a thing of the past.