Experts Believe Autonomous Vehicles & Ride-Sharing Services Will End Traditional Car Ownership

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【Summary】Energy and transportation disruption expert, Antonio Seba, claims that traditional automobile ownership will fall by the waist side as consumers move toward using ride-sharing services and autonomous cars.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Aug 29, 2018 9:00 AM PT
Experts Believe Autonomous Vehicles & Ride-Sharing Services Will End Traditional Car Ownership

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have transformed the way people get around. Instead of having to own a car, users can opt for someone else to drive them to their destination. Why deal with insurance, parking, and car payments when you can have someone else deal with the headache while you still have a reliable source of transportation? In some cities in the United States, using Uber and Lyft can actually be cheaper than owning a car, too. 

Autonomous vehicles are also expected to drastically alter the way we get around. With the rise of autonomous vehicles, individuals are expected to depend on ride-sharing services even more. Another thing autonomous cars are expected to do in tandem with ride-sharing services is change the way people will own vehicles. 

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Say Goodbye To Owning Your Own Car

In a lengthy report, U.S. News looked at how the age of owning vehicles is coming to an end thanks to the roll out of self-driving cars and the popularity of ride-sharing services. Antonio Seba, an energy and transportation disruption expert believes that there are two things consumers looking to purchase a new vehicle should know. 

The first thing is that this could be the last vehicle you'll ever buy. The second thing is that leasing is the more attractive option, as that brand new car will be worth nothing in the next four to five years. 

In a report that Seba co-authored in 2017, he outlined and predicted how the majority of Americans will ditch traditional automobile ownership by 2030. Fast forward a year, and Seba believes that things are accelerating more quickly than he anticipated last year. With automakers and technology companies working on perfecting self-driving technology every day, we're not surprised to hear that. 

According to Seba, the number of passenger cars in the United States will drop by 80 percent between 2020 and 2030. Fleet operators will own a large proportion of vehicles that are left on the road, approximately 60 percent of them. He also claims that 95 percent of all miles driven will be accounted for by on-demand autonomous vehicles in fleets. 

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What's Stopping From Drivers Moving Towards Autonomy?

If there's one thing everyone's waiting for, its for the U.S. government to approve and regulate self-driving cars. After that happens, Seba believes everything will change. "Essentially the disruption happens immediately," said Seba. According to him, the disruption will take place in 2021, which is when a lot of automakers and tech companies are looking to put driverless cars onto the road. 

Instead of individuals owning driverless vehicles, Seba claims that ownership will shift towards fleet operators. And those fleet operators will lease cars to ride-sharing companies. While it's cheaper to for some Americans to get around using Uber and Lyft, prices will plummet when ride-sharing companies adopt autonomous vehicles from fleet operators. The decrease in price to get around using one of the ride-sharing company's autonomous vehicles will make individual car ownership less appealing claims the outlet. 

Instead of owning a car and ordering Ubers and Lyfts when they need them, consumers will move towards a ride-sharing membership. Think of Netflix or Hulu for getting around. The more you pay, the more access you'll get to being driven around in an autonomous vehicle. 

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Seba's Not Alone In Thinking Traditional Ownership Is Coming To An End

Nir Erez mirrors Seba's thoughts on Americans moving away from traditional car ownership. Erez is the co-founder of Moovit, a public transit data and analytics company. While Erez shares the same idea as Seba, he believes it will take a lot longer for the transition to happen – approximately 12 years. 

"I agree that cars will become a commodity for transport rather than a personal possession," said Erez. He went on to explain that people "never fully realize the benefit of their [vehicle]." 

Erez, as U.S. News states, believes – and probably hopes, as well – that companies like Moovit will act as the "brains and hearts" of the new transportation model. Cities, claims Erez, will have a central operating system, similar to an airport's air traffic control tower, that will be in charge of managing the fleets of on-demand self-driving cars. 

"Those central operating systems will be fueled with data by Moovit and other data companies that know all the people movement in the city, including the exact demand and timing for transit options," said Erez. 

While cheaper prices will result in the death of owning a car, it won't kill off public transport. Erez believes that public transport and autonomous ride-sharing services will complement each other. Instead of driving their own car to the subway, people will use a ride-sharing service and continue to ride the subway the rest of the way. 

That's not something Seba believes will happen. According to him, autonomous ride-sharing services will also drive public transport out of business. The only public transit service he sees continuing to exist is New York City's because of the location's high population density, states the outlet. The rationale behind Seba's belief is that a lot of public transportation methods are already struggling and having a cheaper alternative that's readily available won't help things. 

The outlet points towards major investments that automakers and technology companies are making as a sign of continued expansion. Waymo, with numerous partnerships, which include Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rover, is the company that's making the most waves at the moment. 

Waymo's investments, and those of other companies is a strong indication that "this market is going to happen, and it's going to happen now," said Seba. "These are very strong signals that we're on the cusp of all of this happening." 

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