How car ownership has shifted gears

by Tommy Mossy

The way we drive cars is rapidly transforming into the way cars drive us. Here, we discuss some implications the driverless car has on personal transport and car ownership. We explore the growing impact of transportation services like Uber.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the horse industry was booming. Thousands of horses were traded everyday and became the transportation of the day. Wagons, carts and cabins were selling in all shapes and sizes. They were fast, efficient and affordable, making horse drawn carriage the way to get around.

Then, Henry Ford happened. Within 10 years, horse drawn transportation was ridden out of town. People immediately saw there was a better way to get around. A way that was faster, more efficient, and affordable.

Fast forward to 100 years later and, in 2017, transport is about to take another leap forward. This time the change is happening under the hood, and it is driven by software and electricity.

All car manufacturers are desperately trying to keep up with Elon Musk's vision for Tesla, a world of sustainable transport. The Tesla Model S took out 2014 Car Of The Year in its first year of production, proving it is superior in all facets. Tesla have made driving with electric accessible to Australians by rolling out charging stations across the country, making it possible to drive from Melbourne to Sydney and beyond.

As silicon valley has slowly crept into the design of our vehicles, the car will soon become another connected device in our personal digital ecosystem. With apps, maps, and smart alerts, cars are starting do a lot of the thinking for us. Soon, they'll be doing all the driving for us. Again, pioneered by Tesla - driverless cars are developing fast, with successful test cases of people legally driving over 80-kms without having to touch a pedal or the wheel.

Another leap forward also triggered by technology is the sharing economy. Uber has openly declared its mission as ‘the future of transport of everything'. By making thousands of cars available at a moment's notice, with drivers circling nearby. Advancements like this make us question our current driving and car purchasing habits. In the next five years, we'll be asking ourselves, "why would I purchase an SUV, if I only need room for the kids and the dog on weekends"?

Until now, cars have been a tool that help us complete a task. Going forward, they'll be smart robots that we help to complete a task. The only thing they'll need from us is a destination, and over time they'll start to learn your travel patterns and regular destinations.

The streetscape of the future takes an intriguing turn when you combine the driverless car with rideshare services like Uber. While you're at work, at the football or even overseas, your driverless car could be earning for you by picking up and dropping off Uber passengers in its spare time. Just like when Knightrider would summon KIT, and KIT would show up out of nowhere for that perfectly timed escape.

While the biggest decision to make at the showroom this summer might just be the colour of the duco, or leather versus fabric seats, buying a car a decade from now will come with a host of other, far more involved considerations.

Who knows, you might not even have to go to a showroom at all. The cars can probably just parade past your house or text you when they're out the front to pick you up for a test ride.

A day in the life with your future car