As Transportation Service Providers (TSPs) provide a suite of options in the form of a service contract, rather like telecommunication providers do now, there will be less and less need for individually owned cars.  And it’s also the way that automated, even autonomous, vehicles are likely to be introduced: a fleet of AVs that the consumer has access to, rather than an individually assigned car.  In other words, the way car-sharing works today.

How fast will that happen?  How soon will the self-owned vehicle be rare or even obsolete?

How about in 10 years?

That’s what one presenter at a transportation conference last week predicted.

By 2029, self-owned vehicles may be rather like that ’57 Chevy is today – the passion of collectors and passionate individualists.  Indeed, unless older cars and trucks have been upgraded with the minimum in collision-avoidance technologies, they may not be allowed on the road.

On the other hand … it takes time for new technologies to penetrate a market when the existing product does the job and hasn’t yet been amortized, rather in the way electric vehicles haven’t yet achieved much of a market share.

This is where service providers (and insurers) may make the difference.  If rapidly rising liability for current vehicles more subject to collision forces people to make the switch because of insurance costs, a third-party service provider that assumes liability becomes ever more attractive.

Politicians in search of a solution for gas-tax replacement and some form of mobility pricing need to understand this switch.  Once their voters no longer have a personal attachment to a singular piece of hardware, or no longer know or care how they’re being taxed for individual trips because it’s being done through their service plan (what’s the tax on a cell-phone call, for instance?), then we’re in a different world.

Maybe less than ten years from now.



  1. “rather like telecommunication providers do now”

    Looking at the state of our telecommunications market here in Canada, this does not inspire confidence. I would expect transportation to suffer from many of the same pressures towards consolidation and anti-competitive pricing. If this is the future, we need to come up with a different approach: otherwise uncompetitive transportation will weigh like a tax across the entire economy.

    One possible up-side is that high prices would encourage densification and walkable neighbourhoods, which might help compensate for policies that fuel sprawl. (Contrast with the U.S., where competition and road subsidies are likely to promote sprawl, with high long-term costs.) But that’s a pretty terrible way to reduce unecessary harms.

  2. Of course we will get more car, vehicle or bike sharing esp in cities. Gradually, ever so tepidly. Not a revolution but a slow evolution.

    To predict that within a decade we will see an 80%+ drop in miles driven in personally owned vehicles though is utterly ridiculous.. Maybe in a century but even then you will have folks that prefer to ride their own bike, car, van, truck or e-vehicle.

    Is the future the personally owned or shared e-drone ?

  3. I have said before that I don’t think self-driving cars will work in mixed urban traffic unless roads and rules are changed to keep pedestrians, cyclists, and so forth out of the way. There has already been a proposal that pedestrians should be required to wear beacons to avoid being killed by self-driving cars. I am certain that if the AIs are actually safe, pedestrians and others (call them “road trolls”, even though I would consider them heroes) will fool them, slowing them down substantially, leading right back to separate ’em, tag ’em, or ban ’em policies aimed at everyone not encased in a tonne of steel.

    Woz doesn’t buy the hype either:

    ‘It may only be one man’s hot take on the issue but Steve is a tech icon and likely someone others will listen to, despite his not being an expert on autonomous systems. . . . the brunt of Wozniak’s ire seemed to be targeted at Tesla’s AV program. “Tesla makes so many mistakes,” he said. “It really convinces me that auto piloting and auto steering car driving itself is not going to happen.”’

    I do think that self-driving vehicles will do fine on segregated highways, despite their current habit of accelerating into stopped vehicles. Self-driving BRT might be possible too. I don’t think making trucks and buses more like trains is the revolution people are anticipating.

  4. Every time I read about AVs the speed at which I arrive at the same conclusion increases: The jury is out and will be out a lot longer than than proponents are saying.

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