To Frank M. Rinderknecht, founder and CEO of Rinspeed, Inc., innovation is more than just a buzzword. Rinderknecht and Rinspeed have been pushing—or you could say, pulling—the automotive industry into the future for more than 40 years. The company’s newest project, a modular, fully automated vehicle called the “Snap,” is much more than pods on wheels. It’s a whole new way of thinking about transportation.
Pain Drives Change
Rinderknecht doesn’t hold back from proposing big ideas when it comes to the future of transportation—or mobility, as he prefers to describe it. But he isn’t out to dictate the future, he just wants to be part of making it.
ASUG research with SAP automotive clients suggests that many feel held back by the manufacturing systems of the past, despite all the talk of the future. Real change requires big thinking, but Rinderknecht has a practical perspective. “At the end of the day, what makes people change is basically pain,” he says. “It’s extremely difficult for an OEM to retune their employees to what we might call Mobility 2.0, because they’re all stuck in Mobility 1.0.”
How an Innovator Thinks About Mobility
To give you an idea of how Rinderknecht thinks, consider what pain means in the case of the “Snap” project. While he praises companies like Tesla and Apple for their ability to design with the consumer in mind, the “Snap” began with an engineering problem. Instead of asking how to make individual cars smarter or more efficient, Rinderknecht asked, “Where are the inefficiencies in the current system?”
One answer: parked cars. Another: replacement costs. The mechanical components of cars can last 20 or more years, but the digital components have a lifespan of only about three years. Rinderknecht asked how to collapse that lifespan gap, guessing that the answer could lead to a new sustainable, eco-friendly, and efficient transportation system.
What Is the “Snap”?
In its search for vehicles of the future, Rinspeed has teamed up with more than 30 countries across Europe and the U.S., including SAP, to reinvent the transportation market. Just what the “Snap” is and how it could reshape the future of mobility were central topics of a conversation between Rinderknecht and Ann Marie Gray, VP of content at ASUG.
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