5 Replies Latest reply on May 27, 2014 7:03 AM by Dominique Aimon

    Free Car Project

    Michael Oualid

      The automotive industry is walking on its head! Our cars are becoming ever more complex, over-equipped with technology and consumers no longer feel comfortable in them. At a time when the French automobile industry is in a state of turmoil, the Free Car Project, an idea from the independent Think Tank Center for Alternative Research, proposes a new economic model for the automobile industry.

      Today, when we buy a car for 21,000 € on average, we pay for its 1,300 kg including 500 kg of plastic and chromium marketing fantasies which have little to do with "passion", nor with modern life, nor with either our needs or dreams, nor even with anything other than the inertia of commercial habits which have now for some time transgressed the bounds of propriety and efficiency.

      The economic model proposed here favors the sustainability and lightness of the automobile with a new marketing argument.

      The model is based on the principle of the new economy:

      The ones who pay are the ones who make money out of it.

      Everything starts from this observation:

      The cost of a small car represents only 5 % of the turnover it generates during its lifetime.

      When we use our cars we not only drive our everyday life, but also we create business about our car (insurance, maintenance, parking, toll, …) and through our car (shopping mall, services,…).

      The idea is therefore to ask these big names in commercial distribution to help finance the Free Car. This is the same business model used by Google. The search engine provides customers to companies on the information freeway by managing financially the traffic.

      The Free Car will be repaid after few years with purchases made thanks to it. For behavior reasons, the owner just has to pay an entry fee of between 1,000 and 3,000 euro. Once this has been reimbursed the Free Car can then be a source of money for its owner! The manufacturer also receives a payment as the business provider.

      On top of this, as the FCP business model is based on the recognition of the user it could also allows made-to-measure insurance program, along the lines of "pay as you drive". The insurance company identifies the driver once he introduces his bank card into the car and they bill the person identified in this way. Thus the owner can lend his car to a friend without having to pay an additional insurance premium. Another advantage for those who want to share a Free Car: the same vehicle can be associated with several drivers, all insured individually. Insurance companies then have a better analysis of their risks and the users pay a fair price.

      Thus the FREE CAR, is completely open to car-sharing initiatives by, in one hand, including the exchange platform inside the car, and in the other hand by being really affordable for the car sharing company. Knowing that a shared car will create 2 to 3 more traffic and so business turnover within the commercial partners.

      Lastly, the car is light, easy to manufacture, functional, robust and ecological. It is not overloaded with technological equipment such as we witness every day as we pass them in the street. Today technology can do a world of different things but we don’t have to have them or need them in our cars

      At present the project is still in the concept stage but it is food for thought when we are reconsidering tomorrow’s mobility and its associated business models.


        • Re: Free Car Project
          Anthony Le Bleis

          Thanks a lot Michael for your article! I am sure it might interest Guy Tondeur Eric LEYVAL Patrice Person Olivier Dario Matthieu Van der Elst and Nicolas Zart

          • Re: Free Car Project

            Hi Michael, I really like the premise. One question however, why not make it all open source?


            I know sure carmakers don't like the idea, but once they see how Internet companies do make money on open surce and open protocols, it would make sense.

              • Re: Free Car Project
                Michael Oualid

                Thank you Nicolas Zart  for your interesting question.
                The Free Car system is totally Open by essence. We can even easily imagine to outsource the car to different car manufacturer.

                Why the automotive aspects of the car itself is not Open Source?

                My deepest conviction is that the solution for the Automotive problems (economical, ecological, political,...) are outside of the object itself. The technology or even the Open Source engineering will always be there to support the trend, but to focus on them disturbed ourselves to see the Big Picture.

                How to give interests to Car Manufacturers to build light longlasting products that release their customers from all the weight of the Industry?

                By finding finance outside of the object (they know and their loan services are the only profitable units...).


                FCP considers the car as a reliable and longlasting MarketPlace.

                It is important to give confidence in one hand to the user obviously, and also to the business partners.

                So the secure OPEN FREE CAR's structure, and drivetrain has to be sourced from Automotive professionals. It is better to be equipped with Michelin tires and industrial warranty, before inviting Ikea, WalMart or Google to make business on a new plateform.

                You can build a XXIst century car by hand, as long as we work with high-skilled talents and we're targeting the Luxury niche market.

                But if we want to install now a large proactive community of industrial objects (it's not an Apps, and we don't print windshields, nor solid mechanical parts -a small metal printed housing part costs $3K, and has no elastic strength-) it is easier to use the know-how and existing industrial from the car manufacturer.
                For example, if we describe the seating function, my analysis is that is more efficient to design an inboard certified structure, on top of which different suppliers, automotive or not, will be able to propose directly their offer. The car manufacturer will receive a micro-commission on all the sales (Apple earns more than $10M a day on Apps developed by external companies).


                I hope this answer is not more confusing than needed... whatever, I'll be pleased to detailed more precisely (or more lightely) any aspect if needed.

              • Re: Free Car Project

                self driven vehicles owned by big brand will probably be the first FCP application as self driven vehicles provide good platform to developp and sell new services.