What Is a Car? Beyond Electronics
A car today presents itself under many guises: as an "office on wheels,'' a "family space,'' a "toy,'' a "sports car,'' a go-anywhere vehicle, or some hybrid combination. What it means to "drive'' consequently is also changing to include more and more secondary activities over and above the primary activity of "vehicle control.'' As the car continues to evolve, electronics plays a large role, particularly in the development of secondary activities such as entertainment and communications, and as mechanical functions are gradually replaced by electronics. Nevertheless, despite the obvious extension of the functionality of the vehicle, and its continuing improvements, there is a growing concern today that the passenger vehicle may be losing emotional resonance with the customer. The fear is that it might simply become a commodified "wheeled conveyance'' or even an "appliance,'' despite all efforts to increase its functionality and usefulness.