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Report: Car Ownership Could Decrease by 80% in 15 Years

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【Summary】Based on the rate transportation technologies are being developed, the report predicts that the number of cars on the road will decrease to 247 million by 2020. These are all assertions made using standard economic models.

Michael Cheng    May 13, 2017 9:05 AM PT
Report: Car Ownership Could Decrease by 80% in 15 Years

With new vehicular technologies on the rise, car ownership may soon be phased out. This is the conclusion that surfaced in a ground-breaking report published by RethinkX, an independent research firm that specializes in technological disruption and market trends.

The research report, titled Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030: The Disruption of Transportation and the Collapse of the ICE Vehicle and Oil Industries, focuses on emerging transportation technologies: autonomous driving, electric vehicles, ride/car sharing and Transport as a Service (TaaS).

Will these advancements finally end private car ownership? Find out below.

2020 and Beyond

The authors of the report include Tony Seba, co-founder of the research firm and a Stanford Continuing Studies professor, and James Arbib, a prolific technology investor. Based on the rate transportation technologies are being developed, the report predicts that the number of cars on the road will decrease to 247 million by 2020. Fast forward 10 years, that figure could drop even lower to 44 million by 2030. That equates to a staggering 80 percent reduction in car ownership.

These are all assertions made using standard economic models. Assuming the technologies hit mainstream in the predicted timeline, then it is likely that people won't become interested in private vehicles. However, the report does not make room for the possibility of other transportation technologies to change the course of current trends in the industry. For example, flying taxis that operate on electric power could affect these predictions. More efficient roadway systems, like Musk's proposed underground tunnel may make car ownership more appealing with less traffic on public roads.

"We are on the cusp of one of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruptions of transportation in history," said Seba. "But there is nothing magical about it. This is driven by the economics."

Distributed EVs and TaaS

The report asserts that the main reason people won't be interested in owning is cars is due to an increase in monetary savings. Highly efficient transportation could reduce the cost of using a network of distributed EVs. Seba predicts that relying on TaaS could save families up to $5,600 per year.

"Mainstream analyses fail to account for the impacts of technology convergence, and a new business model born in response," said Arbib. "This results in far greater cost differential between individual ownership and Transportation as a Service, leading to far faster and more extensive adoption as people choose cheaper, better transportation provided as a service."

Another crucial part of the paper highlights the effect of less cars on roads. While most urban reports warn readers of congestion and over population, Seba moves away from such predictions and focuses on the clearance of parking lots and roads.

Other reports agree with Seba's timeline and have made similar conclusions. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) published a report surrounding the adoption of autonomous vehicles. BCG analysts predict that up to 25 percent of driving on public roads in the US will be executed by self-driving, electric cars. Researchers connected this trend to lower cost of living for individuals based in major cities. 

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