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This may sound like a presumptuous thing to say, but it is the future. It will happen. In a matter of time, there will be no need for most people to own a car. Car ownership will become non-essential. All you have to do is make the connection between the dots, and it is easy to see how this will happen.
All those costs of acquiring a car, fuelling it daily and maintaining it, will become unnecessary. And you will be able to save tons of cash while at it too. And you will be able to move around freely just as if you owned a car. Plus, there will be a driver thrown in for good measure. Let’s call it private car as a service.
But there’s a more popular name it is already called – a ride hailing service. Or on-demand ride services. Uber. Taxify. AfroCab. Yes; those services. Before you yell at me, “Are you for real?!”, give me a few minutes of your time.
The fees that ride hailing services charge now are amazingly low. Already, in many places around the world, you can take inner-city rides for peanuts. The rates will drop even lower over time as economies of scale kick in.
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On-demand Ride Services Versus Car Ownership
Notice how the fare is gradually inching downwards towards what the average Abuja residence pays for cab rides. On-demand cab ride services are dirt cheap already and will get even cheaper. Plus, there is an abundance of available rides these days when you request for one.
Electric cars are driving down the cost of maintenance of cars. With less complicated engines, fewer moving parts, and no combustion happening, the cost of mainaining an electric vehicle is much lower than that of maintaining a carbon fuel combustion vehicle of the same class.
Acquisition costs are dropping too and eventually, we will have a situation in which electric cars are more affordable than in-class fuel combustion cars in the market.
Range used to be a problem with early electric car models, but that is fast becoming history. Electric vehicles are having better range and speeds now and eventually that con will disappear completely as more efficient batteries are developed.
Self-Driving (Autonomous Vehicles)
Anoter factor to consider is the fact that there is a revolution on the way – that of self-driving cars. At some point in time, we will have vehicles that can navigate any road or terrain autonomously – without the presence or need for a human driver.
Connect the Dots
Now connect the dots. A combination of electric, autonomous driving, and ride-hailing technologies will give you a private car on demand at rock bottom prices, making car ownership largely unnecessary. Acquisition and maintainance costs are borne by the collective users of the platforms, and everyone gets a car for use when they need one. Once these services hit a sweet spot in terms of fares, it will only be a matter of time before most people – perhaps yourself inclusive – will find that there is no need to purchase and own a car anymore.
That day will come. The extremely rich will continue to own cars, more for the prestige than for the utility. Fans of car brands will splurge on those brands for the thrill factor. So Tesla, Chevrolet, Ford and other car brands will still record sales to individuals. But the vast majority of low and middle class people will find that car ownership is no longer essential.