In Albert’s Corner this month, thoughts on technology and the future of vehicle ownership.
We love our cars. The American romance with vehicles has been documented in movies and rock ‘n’ roll songs since time immemorial. For us, vehicle ownership represents independence and maybe even makes a statement about who we are (or who we’d like to be). This is probably why the average American household owns 2.06 vehicles.
There is plenty of evidence, however, that seismic changes to our relationship with car ownership are on the horizon. We’ve seen the beginning of these trends in the form of Uber, Lyft and Zipcar. And those self-driving cars we keep hearing about are getting closer to reality with each passing day, though even Google admits that it may be another 30 years before they’re a full-blown reality.
What really puts the future of car ownership in jeopardy, though, is not just technology but simple math. Think for a moment about how you use your own car, and specifically about how much time it’s actually in motion in a given week versus just sitting there waiting for you. There’s a whole lot of “sitting there” going on, and that’s what cries out for change. Parking lots full of vehicles are far less efficient than fewer vehicles in more constant use, and the algorithms and technology to correct that state of affairs are not far away.
What form will the new order of car ownership take? Will we still buy cars but lend them out as self-driving Ubers while we’re stuck in the office all day? Will we choose from a shared pool of vehicles owned by the government, or Google, or General Motors?
The better question: what will all that mean for the economy? What will happen to automotive manufacturers, dealerships and perhaps especially the $1 trillion auto financing industry? And what about all those people working on all those highway construction projects? Will our roads start shrinking instead of growing as vehicle sharing becomes a reality?
There are many more questions than answers at this point, but I think it’s virtually certain that the landscape of vehicle ownership will change dramatically in the not-too-distant future.
Albert Blaize is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for TRG Networking and spends far too much time on the road to share his car. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.