Elon Musk said on Monday that the company was on the cusp of making cars that could not only drive themselves (see article) but would start operating a fleet of “robo taxies”.
According to AAA Americans drive less than an hour a day, .8 hours per day. (2016). So pretty much cars are underutilized in a way that’s almost unconscionable. It’s amazing to think how deeply most people are so closely connected to there cars. What is very evident about cars they sit around a lot, they are expensive to use and own, and they are necessary in sprawling cities.
Musks vision is to have vehicles that when they are switched on the system can beckon them for service so they can start being productive and utilized more efficiently. That to me may be the most exciting prospect I could imagine. Take the worst performing asset you own, and make it productive. From a rider, perspective imagine how much safer every single ride would be once the technology is ready.
So there are so many implications to all of this. How many manufacturers will make the same features available? What will the impact be to the auto industry? What will happen to the size of the auto industry? Some statistics show the industry will shrink by 35% when cars get utilized more efficiently. Entire economies will start to shift further away from auto manufacturing and the support industries.
The reality is Musk has made so many claims that aren’t even close to accurate but the general themes are within reach and are proving to come to fruition. Let’s say the time frame isn’t a year (which I can’t imagine it will come anywhere close) but it is realistic in five. That’s just not that far out there. Personally, I’m excited to see the evolution in the automobile industry. My grandparents saw one, now its our turn! The industry will be so different in 10 years we won’t recognize it, that’s my prediction.
In my opinion, rideshare companies will be a part of history that filled the gap between car ownership, and segmented car usage and sharing.