Autonomous Electric Vehicles: The End of Car Ownership

RethinkX, an independent think tank, recently released a report predicting the end of vehicle ownership as we know it. Electric vehicles will still be on the roads, we just won’t own them. There will be a shift from private vehicle ownership to consumers using Transportation as a Services (TaaS).

RethinkX Report

The report, entitled Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030, predicts on-demand autonomous electric vehicles (AEVs), will cause major disruption to the automotive industry. According to the report, less than 10 years after regulation allows for autonomous driving, 95% of U.S. passenger miles will be served by AEVs.

At what point the ‘Big Bang Disruption’ begins will all depend on when regulation allows for mainstream autonomous driving. RethinkX expects 2021 will be the year the disruption begins, and ride-sharing services are already preparing.

Ride-Sharing Services

Companies like Lyft and Uber are investing billions to help consumers overcome psychological and behavioural problems associated with shared transportation.

Sharing transport with strangers and people’s affinity for driving are two problematic areas for ride-sharing companies to overcome. Yet in 2016, in New York City alone, 555,000 people used TaaS.

Financial Savings

Ultimately, the main motivating factor behind the shift to TaaS, for the consumer, will be financial savings.

Using on-demand ride-sharing services will save the average U.S. citizen $5,600 per year. This is the equivalent to a 10% pay rise in the average household. The report suggests this will lead to the biggest increase in consumer spending in history.

When TaaS begins to save average consumers considerable amounts of money, owning a car will be seen as an unnecessary luxury.

Automotive Industry

By 2030, new car sales are expected to be down by 70%. This will be mirrored by a 70% decrease in revenue for the industry, falling from $1.5 trillion in 2015 to $393 billion in 2030.

According to the report, internal combustion vehicles, as a platform, will essentially be gone by 2024. Manufacturers that pivot and adapt to the ride-sharing industry are most likely to survive this transition.

Other Sales

On-demand AEVs might nearly bring new car sales to a halt in the U.S., but it might not be the same worldwide. It’s expected that emerging economies, like China and India, will continue to purchase new vehicles due to growing car demand.

When dealing with the automotive industry, car enthusiasts always need to be accounted for. Considerable financial savings might not be enough to entice car enthusiasts away from owning their own car.

What do you think, will the next car you buy be your last? Would saving $5,600 be enough to entice you away from owning your own vehicle? Let us know in the comments section below.

By Robert Bacon
Updated: May 15, 2017
  • Jim

    I think there are a lot of psychological / cultural issues that stand in the way. Do you really want to hop in a car after the previous user took her labrador down to the river for a swim? I can see autonomous ride-sharing working well in urban areas, but not so much outside of that.