Between ride sharing, ride subscriptions, and autonomous vehicles, traveling by car is poised for a big change in the next few years.
Three titans of the auto industry discussed the future of cars on Tuesday at Brainstorm Reinvent, Fortune’s conference in Chicago about innovation in business.
Taking center stage were autonomous vehicles and how legacy carmakers will address the new needs of car owners. If drivers aren’t actually driving, how will drivers—or passengers, more accurately—spend their time in cars and how should cars be redesigned?
Atif Rafiq, Volvo chief digital officer and global chief information officer, said that Volvo is working to make autonomous vehicles into more of a family space than a mode of transportation. “The question was what do you do inside the car?” he said. “We came up with a design that makes the car more like a living room or a bedroom. You have a bed, you can sleep, you have a fridge, you have a place where you can be entertained or be productive, for example, with your work.”
The self-driving future can seem almost utopian when looking at how much free time passengers may gain during their commutes, but issues of safety, insurance, and increased traffic are just as much a consideration.
“We’re not going to really be able to build more roads,” Sundeep “Sunny” Madra, vice president of Ford’s tech incubator, Ford X, said about the potential for increased traffic. “We’re going to have to get more efficient.”
As for insurance, the trio noted that changes, including sharing data about drivers to lower costs and ensuring the performance of self-driving cars, will be critical in adapting to autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing.
“In a regulatory environment, the more we partner and demonstrate a very effective safety record, the better we can work in a collaborative way on regulations that support safety broadly,” Rachel Bhattacharya, director of corporate finance, strategic initiatives, and investor relations, for General Motors said.
In addition to changing how cars move, Rafiq noted that car ownership could move toward a subscription service-based model, similar to one many consumers are already familiar with.
“By 2025, we want 50% of the cars that we move, the cars that we make, to be available via subscription,” Rafiq said. “The subscription is basically trying to make a car work like a phone. So if you said, ‘Hey, I love the iPhone. I’m in, and every two years just give me a new one.'”