With Automated Cars – Are We Moving From Ownership to Borrowing?

Automation has acted to disrupt everything from businesses to city layouts to the devices in our pockets. One that we hear about more frequently is the rise of the automated car, the stuff of science-fiction fantasy. And as it becomes increasingly sophisticated and capable of handling the pressures of daily traffic. It will become a force in its own right on the roads of whichever country they emerge on.

But will we see it dramatically change our perspective of car ownership? Would we see an increasing number of people save the hassle of bills to just borrow one of hundreds in a sustained fleet? With concerns over costs, carbon emissions and practicality in the futures smarter cities. We argue the points of both sides to see the pros and cons of either side.

Automated Cars for an automating world

Driverless cars are expected to hit the roads of countries like the UK by 2022 in optimistic forecasts. Meaning that commuters would be able to call on these vehicles for their daily transport in the near future. And while these services become increasingly mainstream, their utility versus the costs of owning a car become clearer to see.

According to The Conversation, monthly and annual costs of owning a vehicle are becoming increasingly high. Taking into consideration the cost of buying and maintaining a car, buying petrol, parking and commuting time. It reaches a total annual cost of $16,667 per year for users driving roughly 15,000 miles in that year.

Cost of wealth and health

The average user will feel the financial and logistical pinch in the future as cities become more averse to car ownership. On a local level, councils like Hackney in London have put a petrol and diesel car ban on nine of their boroughs main roads. While this move is an attempt to curb increasing levels of pollution, a policy which may increase over time.

Alongside this, automation has been put to use in areas of transport such as urban rail systems. Improving service while also cutting down on costs annually, this is something cars are also confronting. Uber, in particular has dedicated a large amount of funds to the development of an autonomous taxi service, reducing costs. While also using electric cars to make them pollution free.

Ownership still matters

While it’s believed that car ownership will suddenly vanish from the face of the earth. To be replaced with an automatic fleet of cars for users to hire and use is not entirely true. In the UK, sales and ownership for petrol cars has increased by 10.4% over the first months of 2018.

And much like any new technology when it first enters circulation: the cost will be high relative to demand. Especially for using them as a rented service as opposed to an owned one. But autonomous vehicles may prove more cost-effective as something that a user owns instead of hires. This factor may be a temporary argument for owning versus hiring, however.

Owning a car is more than just having a mode of transport, it operates as a medium for work, rest and play. Meaning that it will serve to store certain required items for commutes and long/short trips.

As technology intermingles with vehicles, this places the life expectancy of a car even higher than before. With the ability to undergo upgrades to software automatically, costs are brought down while servicing becomes easier.