On the e-LEGEND website one could read: "in today's environment where we are permanently ultra-stimulated, having time for oneself is probably the most precious thing". The idea would be to use one's free time to do everything but waste time, driving being one. Where we were once sold the luxury of space and then the pleasure of driving, we are now offered the luxury of doing something else. "Autonomous driving will allow you to find this time for yourself and create new experiences to live within your vehicle." So in the car of the future we're no longer going to drive but rather have fun.
It's funny how car designers tend to sell us a fantasy by portraying the car (especially the SUV) as a protective bubble to escape the monotony of the outside world and reconnect with ourselves, whereas it's precisely by cutting ourselves off from others that we disconnect from the world. We have seen this with the confinement... Man is a social animal, let's not forget that, and most of the inventions of the last 20 years have contributed to dehumanizing social bonds in order to digitalize them, isolating individuals from the group. No, we won't be happier if we all watch a movie together in our car. Singing at the top of one's lungs on a single looping tape is priceless #nostalgia.
Switching on headlights instead of looking back in the mirror
We agree that a logo alone will not change the world's face. On the other hand, we know how revealing these changes in codes are, and provide us with insight lights about organisations and their motivations.
Over the past decade, the automobile industry has sought to erase its ostentatious character. Chrome was to the car what gilding was to the 3rd republic. A superficial decorum aimed to shine and impress. We know how much the car was the showcase of the economic capital of its drivers. "You can show your car everywhere; not your home".
At this point, one may legitimately wonder whether the arrival of Instagram, accompanied by its display of interior decorations and other "home-staging" has not siphoned off the myth of the car, by transferring the staging of economic capital to housing. In any case, this seems obvious to the younger generation.
Let's get back to cars. With the climate emergency slowly infusing in society, with oil switching from black gold to pariah, now is probably time to keep a low profile. The switch from "chrome" to "flat" seems quite appropriate, and it's a cheap way to reduce their logos' symbolic carbon footprint. At the same time, SUVs tenfolded their sales.
But this still doesn't really answer the fundamental question:
What desirable and sustainable future can car manufacturers offer us?
This is what we would like to see in the headlights rather than in the rearview mirrors.
We can already hear the manufacturers' concerto of answers singing the praises of the electric car. The alpha and omega of "zero emissions" and other chimeras of "clean" vehicles.
During the two decades during which the subject has been on the table, our century-old behemoths have been advancing at a snail's pace. There are a few cheetahs like Tesla who are trying to shake up the established order, but it is not with a 2-ton car and batteries made of rare metals that the ecological footprint of our transport will be reduced.
Yet looking at the scientists, economists, and engineers, the sentence is quite clear. We must cut our CO2 emissions off by four by 2050. Transport alone accounts for 14% of emissions, including 6% from private cars alone. And this is where electric cars appear to be the wrong answer to a real problem.