Getting your drivers license used one of the first steps towards adulthood. It signified freedom, maturity, a coming of age. In places where there were adequate and safe commuting systems, it meant you didn’t have to rely on pricey public transport to get into the city or to see friends. Indeed, you can go wherever you want whenever you want.
But to many modern youths and even adults, at least before the whole pandemic hit, ride-sharing apps like Uber and Grab gave the advantages without the need to pay for insurance or park or maintain a vehicle. We of course love our cars, and we are more than willing to put up with issues and idiosyncrasies to keep our beloved rides running. But what are the actual non-emotional points to consider in today’s world?
On the surface, driving everywhere, even if it is just down the street to go to the store, is much more convenient than walking. You expect it to be faster, and you can avoid any sudden changes in the weather. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in an out-of-nowhere rainstorm, after all.
But, is it more convenient? Again, the answer is yes and no. if you’re traveling far or are in a rush, you give yourself enough time to get there by driving. But, if you’re just running quick errands close by, it could be easier to walk, run, or cycle, as you can minimize the risk of getting caught in traffic or taking a detour.
The ride-sharing app is what kind of splits things down the middle here. Many seem quite happy to give up some inconveniences like not being sure you can get a ride or an unclean car because the can avoid issues like parking, maintenance and insurance.
How is the Automotive industry responding to all this? To the fact that less people are actually interested in owning cars? They are shifting a bit. Some companies are already entering into partnerships with other organizations or even creating their own car-sharing ride-sharing system somewhat similar to bicycle-rental operations in some countries. The car is owned by the company, and people get access to it only when needed. Usually by an app, of course, as are most things nowadays. And these aren’t just your econobox vehicles either. Luxury brands like Porsche created systems such as Porsche Passport (now Porsche Drive Subscription) to have access as needed to their fun little cars in some markets. Audi went in pretty early on this as well, especially in China. Indeed, for travelers these systems may well be the way to go rather than renting a car for a week’s stay somewhere.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda is a massive car nut, enthusiast and racecar driver. He loves his cars. But, he says, the world is changing. He thinks that people will love cars as they always have but in a different way. They will love them more because of the way they impact their lives, because of the things they allow them to do. Many of the concept cars and engineering and design studies in the modern car world have vehicles doing double-duty. Maybe they can be either self-driven or automated. Perhaps they will be owned but can be integrated into a system that allows the car to be used by someone else, via self-driving automation, rather than just sit in the office parking lot 9 hours a day. Kind of like having a driver that works in Uber or Grab when he isn’t driving you.
Maybe our daily drives will become a little more like daily rides. That leaves the weekend for project cars and toys that don’t necessarily have to be as efficient or even consistent as the main work vehicle.