Will a self-driving Ferrari exist?

A couple big events played out this week: Tesla rolled out its over-the-air self driving software update (again, playing a completely different game than all other automakers), and Volvo announced it will take responsibility for accidents caused while in autonomous mode.

It seems like self-driving cars will exist en masse in the next decade or two.

This got me thinking about our relationship with our cars, and more broadly, our transportation. Cars are often an identity purchase. A Corvette is a classic example (sometimes derided as “the car for rich plumbers”), but Priii can just as driven by the buyer’s self-identity as an environmentalist. And for performance autos, part of that identity is “I’m someone who drives faster than everyone else.”

But in other types of transportation, where I’m not in control, I don’t really care about performance as expression of identity. I don’t care if I’m in the sexiest jet. Or that my bus is the fastest in the city. I just want to get there, safely, comfortably, and efficiently. It seems like as self-driving cars become more ubiquitous and remove the act of driving, we’ll stop caring as much about those kinds of cars. Porsches. Aston Martins. Ferraris. The ones that we control to fly down the highway, weaving through the lanes or hugging the curves. In other words, because we’re no longer in control, it’ll lose its value in that kind of expression. “I’m someone who buys a car that drives me fast” seems a lot less powerful than “I’m someone who drives fast.”

Seems like a bad thing for Ferrari.

(photo by Leap Kye)

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