I received recently an invitation to attend the first c,mm,n garage in Delft (the Netherlands). C,mm,n (pronounce: common) is a joint project between the three Dutch technical universities to build a car for 2020, but in an open source way. I quote: “c,mm,n is an innovative mobility concept; a new way of developing, manufacturing and using cars. By making the blueprint of the c,mm,n car publicly available under an open-source licence we are able to develop truly sustainable mobility. Just like open-source software, c,mm,n focuses on services around the product. You can use c,mm,n to offer people a lease car, rental car or other mobility services. It is allowed to sell c,mm,n too. Just as long as you make any derived work publicly available again.”
You can watch on their website a video (sorry only in Dutch) where one of the project leads explain the philosophy behind the car. He explains that traditionally, car manufacturers take an existing car and improve it in several ways and there you have your new car. Basically the car (manufacturer) dictates the way how we should live our life. The c,mm,n project tries to reverse this and looks at the future and let our life influence the way how we build cars.
So the idea is that the technical drawings of the car are freely available on the Internet and everyone is free to change and improve the car, but as with the software open source world, one should contribute its changes back. What you actually get is that you can’t make money anymore from the basics of the car (e.g. chassis), but that you have to earn your money with the services that you offer: rental, leasing, modifications, etc. Similar like the commercial open source companies like SpringSource that give away their code and products and charge for consultancy and support. I can imagine that there will be a booming market for “pimp my ride” kind of companies and if they do the marketing and service offering right, this might be a very lucrative market…
The big difference with traditional cars is that the lifetime of this car is set at three years. So you rent or lease your car for three years and then you bring it back to the dealership. All the external car parts like doors, electronics, etc are made to last three years. Where things like the chassis, engine, etc are designed to last a couple of lifetime cycles. So as a car dealership you don’t sell cars anymore, but your customers rent or lease them. In a way they are following the current trend in software offerings where hosted software where you pay per use or per user becomes more and more popular (Software as a Service).
Very interesting concept this Cars-as-a-Service. I wonder to which other industries we can apply this “as-a-Service” as well… What about “Husband-as-a-Service”? Hmm, I think that exists already… 😉