The Modular Car for a volatile economy.
Everyone by now knows about the moving assembly line popularized by Ford back near the (other) turn of the century. The automobile industry is struggling and I have some radical ideas that could possibly help keep them afloat.
No bail-out included.
Lets begin by listing the problems I see from a non-industry perspective.
STOP REINVENTING THE WHEEL!
Research and Development keeps spending a LOT of money on new ways to do the same old thing. New ways to jack up the price on vehicles that should not cost as much as they do. To help you visualize the way I see it, try to think of your car as a computer.
1. The computer case. With a PC you can technically put almost any computer into it. Most computer cases are designed with all the holes and component grooves for standard PC equipment to fit. Hence the term PC - Compatible. GM did this a little and Nissan/Acura as well with the engines but I propose a more universal type variety of chassis that would allow customized vehicles to be made quicker, easier and more importantly, cheaper.
2. The motherboard. If you've ever looked into your computer, the motherboard is the largest circuit board in there. Its the one in the back where everything plugs in. There would be some variation allowed in different ranges. This all depends on the type of car you are looking for. There would be some types of vehicles with customizable engine horsepower and fuel efficiency ratings. Some requiring different parts. They should all be designed to fit within certain parameters of size and specs. Difficult, but not impossible. The benefits would far outweigh the difficulties.
3. The components. Hard drive, memory, keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc. All these things are the little extras that would be interchangeable with all other modular cars. Some would actually be only visual or ergonomic modifications and others would actually affect power and fuel efficiency. Want to reduce the size of your gas tank? Fine, you will get better mileage but will have to refill more often. Want to consider replacing your external shell of your 2008 Altima to the one on the 2009 Maxima, no problem.
So how would something like this be cheaper? Well, IN THE LONG RUN it would be cheaper simply because it would increase the life span of your average vehicle. A LOT less waste would be generated. Every single part of the vehicle would be used until it is dead. Why is there business at junk yards? That should be where cars go to be recycled, not fester. Nothing should be left of the vehicles that are no longer used.
You won't have to buy a new car every time your transmission dies on you. You won't have to buy a new car every time a new body style is released. You won't have to buy a new car simply because the manufacturer doesn't carry parts for it anymore.
Your classic 2009 Mustang could fit a brand new 2029 Mustang engine.
The auto industry would experience a more constant flow of income from people who upgrade their cars a little bit at a time instead of buying one complete new one every 10+ years.
You could imagine a scenario where a person who loves the look and feel of his Mercedes-Benz would replace all the inner workings of his car because he is sick of dealing with the water pump and faulty electrical system. There is NO reason to replace his pristine out shell or the leather seats.
"But this conversion would take forever." Well, it would take a lot less time if we start now.
A consortium would have to be created to set a few standards with acceptable spec ratings that would make all the automakers pleasant, not happy.
Cars would be designed in this order of priority.
Yes, SECS sells ladies and gentlemen, SECS sells.