What is the future of car ownership?
Around the world, attitudes towards fossil fuel powered cars are changing. Populations – and their governments – are seeking alternatives, as climate change continues to impact on our daily lives.
In 2018, the government of the United Kingdom announced a range of measure that will effectively see a ban on petrol and diesel vehicles by the middle of the century. It held the world’s first ‘Zero Emission Vehicle’ summit in September, outlining a vision for “all new cars and vans to be emission-free by 2040”.
France, Norway and India have also committed to banning non-electric vehicles. China and Germany are considering similar policy changes. Bank of America said recently that the US is reaching “peak car” and predicted much “disruption” within the transportation industry.
And here in Ireland, things are set to change too. In 2018, our government announced its intention to ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. In other words, we could all be driving new cars running on battery power just 12 years from now.
‘Significant’ environmental and financial factors cannot be ignored
The environmental benefits of all-electric vehicles are enormous. In real terms, someone driving a car today that produces 150 grams of CO2 per kilometre will pump 1.5 metric tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year if they do 10,000 kilometres a year (just over 6,200 miles). And, whatever the CO2 figure, vehicles that are contributing to it now will be replaced by cars that contribute nothing in terms of emissions, with the sources of electric power getting greener all the time, too. And more of us are already driving hybrids, with a handful of all-electric, engineless vehicles on Ireland’s roads already.
The financial element of transportation could change as much as the environmental factors – so much so that by 2040, will we own a car at all? Car ownership is expensive; not only is there the initial cost of buying a vehicle, but also the insurance, tax, NCT and servicing, not to mention fuel and other ongoing maintenance costs. This would all disappear if you no longer needed to run and maintain a car. Instead, imagine opening an app on your smartphone, ordering a vehicle, and within minutes, that car pulling up outside your home or place of work to transport you to wherever you want to go. And when you’ve finished consuming your required transportation need, not having to be responsible for the vehicle.
Smart technologies and the continuing progress in developing autonomous, self-driving vehicles brings about opportunities for cars to become ‘on demand’ as a ‘pay as you go’ model, rather like an autonomous taxi service. With data showing the majority of our cars remain idle for up 95% of the time, what will be the point in us all owning our own vehicles?
If ownership does persist in the future, surely we could share one, with a scheduling system working out the vehicle’s availability to suit our needs? Or, if this has logistical limitations, perhaps we will own shares in a fleet of cars large enough so that one is always available to meet our needs. It’s just an idea, but potentially liberating.
Continental is prepared for the future of motoring
Continental has been preparing for this possible automotive future by investing in technologies such as the CUbE and BEE – on-demand autonomous vehicle solutions that are designed to take people wherever they want to go. In fact the CUbE vehicle already exists, and is set to take to the streets of Frankfurt for real-world trials.
These changes won’t just affect private citizens, businesses will be impacted, too. Continental is also looking at how this seismic shift will shape the commercial sector in future. Its ‘Fleet Management’ concept is examining how things like car sharing will change attitudes towards vehicle ownership. And not just cars; will hauliers still need their lorries, or will they call on-demand vehicles.
As other technologies advance, will these vehicles be loaded up by robots, with an all-seeing all-knowing AI ensuring their cargo gets to its destination? In some sectors, this is already happening.
These changes will affect those of us who need to drive as part of our jobs. If you’re a sales rep, do you pay or contribute towards the cost of your CUbE, or does your employer pay for it? What will replace company car tax?
And, on a personal level, how will this impact public transport when the concept of a bus (get picked up, board a vehicle shared by others, get driven to where we want to go) becomes the norm with our cars of the future too? Will we need railways and buses when, effectively, everyone’s cars have been replaced by a form of public transport? What about taxi companies?
Questions generating answers generating more questions
None of us can predict the future, but the questions we ask at least make us think about it in a way that we may not have considered before. From those questions, we begin to see possibilities. And from possibilities comes a vision. This is at the heart of Continental’s philosophy today. Research and development of future technologies is Continental’s focus. And the likes of BEE, CUbE and Fleet Management are just a taster of what’s to come.
Advance Pitstop – Caring for your car from the tyres up