Kiss Your Car Goodbye

Kiss Your Car Goodbye


Thanks to the smartphone, going from A to B is so easy that it’s got some urban dwellers wondering… Why bother owning a car when you can easily get where you want at the press of a button? It’s an idea known as “mobility as a service”, where travelers say goodbye to their own cars and sign up instead for transportation-on-demand booked through their smartphones. Imagine, for instance, a commuting plan that charges by the mile or through a monthly fee, like Netflix. The demise of car ownership, at least in the world’s growing urban centers, is a prospect that the world’s automakers are getting ready for. But it’s not going to happen right away. A major switch to subscription transportation requires two things to fall into place. The first is already well under way: the explosion of ride-hailing apps like Lyft, Grab and Careem. The second part isn’t quite there yet. That’s driverless cars. Removing the human from behind the wheel slashes the cost of a taxi ride. That will make mobility as a service so cheap in many places, it won’t make financial sense to own a car anymore. A typical ride today costs $2 to $3 a mile, but a robo-taxi is projected to cost as little as 70 cents per mile. Tesla chief executive, Elon Musk reckons he can lower that to 18 cents a mile. That will turbo-charge demand for mobility as a service, which is destined to become a $10 trillion business, according to Ford Motor Company. That’s why tech giants like Google and Apple are developing their own self-driving systems to take on the world’s leading automakers, including Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford and Toyota. Eventually, a single smartphone app could connect us to a web of options: robo-taxis, self-driving shuttles, subways, e-bikes and electric scooters — that will whisk us through congested megacities, where two-thirds of the global population is projected to live by mid-century. Someday, urban dwellers may have to spend a day in the country to catch a glimpse of that 20th Century show pony known as a private car.