@Bert, absolutely. When Nelson said, "We want to bring people back into automobiles," I sensed that he meant ""We want to bring [YOUNG} people back into automobiles."
Your description of generational differences is quite apt. Automobile was once the playground for kids interested in tinkering; but now digital appliances took its place. If true, indeed, Ford might be onto something...
I think this also has something to do with the trend of young people not being quite as anxious to own their own cars as previous generations were, Junko. Ford seems to be creating an incentive for young people to become more invested in their own cars, perhaps. As long as this can be done safely, and I don't see why it can't, then Ford may just be onto something.
A few decades ago, kids would "become invested" by installing custom carburators, intake and exhaust headers, heavy duty shocks, what have you. Now most of those possibilities have been taken away and kids have moved on to digital appliances. Ford marries the two.
> what's in it for companies -- system vendors and chip companies alike -- to invest in helping amateurs?
The answer is te growing list of hardware startup incubators which invest and help startups with big ideas. Toghether they have hundreds of startups. These incubators depend on lower cost design and the maker communities.