What is the price for time?

A new advert has been released in Germany, featuring happy and content people engaged in choice activities in their backseats. We are treated to a visual feast of yoga practitioners, VR gamers, writhing young couples, etc. You would think that it's Tesla or Ford, rising to the recent challenge of Sigmar Gabriel, making inroads into a German market that has been cautious in marketing "self-driving cars". In fact, it's the promotion for the German National Railway (i.e., DE Bahn) in sync with their slogan: Diese Zeit gehört Dir (i.e., This time belongs to you).

It is remarkable to see how a future of autonomous driving has captured the imagination of the general public. The main reason I take the train for business travel is because it allows me to work in comfort. I've yet to brave a "downward facing dog", but I have never been ashamed to set up office on the carriage desktop.

What is the price for time?

Vehicle manufacturers will be pressed to create personal spaces to accommodate the desired activities of their consumers. This will be a radical departure from how they currently differentiate from one another—that is, the sporty mid-life crisis-er from the football mum. In a time when the "joy of driving" is being replaced by the "joy of living", the automobile industry will be challenged to create private spaces that enable the pursuit of desirable non-driving activities on a moving platform.

Until then, there is not much competition against the Deutsche Bahn.

Driverless Car of the Future, advertisement for “America’s Electric Light and Power Companies,” Saturday Evening Post, 1950s. Credit: The Everett Collection.