The Ford Model T, and other lessons from the motor vehicle industry

Ford Model T @ beaulieu Motor Museum, United Kingdom

The Ford Model T is widely regarded as the most influential motor vehicle of the 20th century. Its assembly line production made it affordable to the middle classes. Since then, the proliferation of private passenger vehicles has fuelled progress, facilitated work forces, and created opportunities.

The Model T Van, another evolution, supported local traders and helped to shape future business models.

The Ford Model T Van at Beaulieu Motor Museum, United Kingdom

I saw the model T at the Beaulieu Motor Museum over the summer, along with other motoring marvels that hallmarked a time of abundance in our history.

As we explored Motor vehicle development  from the first British bicycle or “dandy horse” which was propelled by body weight and pushing off with the feet to the Jaguar XK150 or the 2018 Rolls Royce I was struck by 2 key themes; the power of technology to transform industries creating fundamental societal shifts, and the savvy to repurpose old technologies into new business models.

Replica of T Walls & Sons Ice Cream Delivery Systems @ Beaulieu Motor Museum, United Kingdom

Take for example the walls ice-cream bicycle delivery dated back to 1938. The Walls brand, now owned by Unilever, is no longer delivered by bikes; replaced by freezers at local grocers. The commercialisation of these ice creams using branded self-service freezer units was of course hugely revolutionary. Yet Deliveroo has founded a successful business model in consolidating ready meals including ice-cream, and delivering these directly to our doors by operators on bicycles. Here we can see how electricity, urbanisation, and retail consolidation transformed the walls business model, and how intelligent application based on web2.0 allowed the consolidation of services and made older technology relevant again on a global scale. Its phenomenal!

In the coming years, machine learning will up the ante with drone delivery systems. This in turn will  facilitate easier B2B and C2C product trades eliminating many middlemen. The cycle of human ingenuity is endless!

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