In the modern global economy, Thomas Friedman has a simple rule: “Whatever can be done, will be done,” and if you’re not the one doing it, someone else is. Detroit’s automakers aren’t exploring new business models, so other companies are. When one of them clicks, this bailout “will be remembered as pouring billions into the CD business on the eve of the birth of the iPod.”
Much as Steve Jobs grasped the shifting music paradigm, a San Francisco-based company called Better Place wants to shift the mobility paradigm to one similar to a cell phone carrier. Customers lease cars like phones, then pay Better Place to access its network of charging stations. Don’t expect this kind of innovation out of Detroit, which is producing some cars with worse mileage than the Model-T. They’re Car 1.0. Let’s look for 2.0.