With the automotive landscape beginning to change, will we even own a car in future?

With the automotive landscape beginning to change, will we even own a car in future?

18 Apr

By Gwyn Fennell

Last year, in 2018, the government made a siesmic announcement, suggesting a range of milestones that will – in effect – see a total ban on petrol and diesel vehicles by the end of the fourth decade of this century

Having held the world’s first ‘Zero Emission Vehicle’ summit in September, the government outlined a vision for "all new cars and vans to be emission-free by 2040".

In other words, they’re suggesting that we'll be all running on battery power just over twenty years from now. That’s a staggering ambition, but is it achievable?

Other nations think so. France has committed to banning non-electric vehicles, as have Norway, India and Ireland. And Bank of America recently stated that it believes the US is reaching “peak car”, and that this would result in much “disruption” within the transportation industry.

'Significant’ environmental and financial factors will change motoring forever

The environmental benefits of all-electric vehicles are potentially enormous. In real terms, a motorist today driving a car producing 150 grams of CO2 per kilometre will dump around 1.5 metric tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, based on doing 10,000 kilometres a year (that’s just over 6,200 miles). And, whatever the CO2 figure, vehicles that are contributing to emissions now will be replaced by cars that contribute none, thanks to sources of electric power steadily getting greener all the time, too.

More of us are driving hybrids and all-electric, engineless vehicles on the roads already, and the number is fising every year, as more and more makes and models become available – and, importantly, affordable – to us all. For the drivers of these vehicles, the lack of engine noise is something they already experience. Those people who have become used to this quieter way of driving may think: “What’s the big deal? So long as I can drive a car from A to B, then what does it matter if it’s electric?”

And the financial element of transportation could also change as much as the environmental aspects, because by 2040, will we own a car at all? Sound crazy? Not if you really think about it. Car ownership is expensive; not only is there the cost of buying the vehicle, but there is also insurance, tax, MOT and servicing, not to mention fuel and other maintenance costs. Then there’s parking, and the risk of incurring fines, too.

Imagine being able to set this all aside because you no longer need to run a car. Picture opening an app on your smartphone, ordering a vehicle, and within minutes, that car pulls up at your location to take you to wherever you desire.

Smart vehicle-on-demand technologies and services

Smart technologies and the rapid evolution of autonomous, self-driving vehicles brings about opportunities for cars to become ‘on demand' in a ‘pay as you go’ environment, rather like an autonomous taxi service.
And, with data showing our cars sit parked up 95% of the time, what will be the point in us all owning our own vehicles anyway? If ownership does persist in the future, surely it needs to be on a shared basis, incorporating a scheduling system that manages the vehicle’s availability to suit all of our needs? Or, if this proves problematic, maybe we will own shares in a fleet of cars, one large enough so that a vehicle is always available to meet our needs.


Continental: preparing for – and shaping – the future of driving

Continental is preparing for this future by investing in technologies such as the CUbE and BEE – both of which are on-demand autonomous vehicle solutions intended to take people wherever they want to go. CUbE is quite far advanced, and set to take to the streets of Frankfurt for real-world trials.

All businesses will be impacted by future automotive changes, too. Continental is looking at how this seismic shift will shape the commercial sector in future. Its ‘Fleet Management’ concept is researching how ideas like car sharing will change attitudes towards vehicle ownership, and wether hauliers will still need their own lorries? Maybe they wont, if it’s simpler to hire on-demand vehicles which can then be loaded up with robots, ensuring their cargo gets to its destination by all-seeing, all-knowing AI.

It 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 business pay for it? What will replace company car tax?

More questions generating more answers

None of us are capable of guaranteeing the future, but the questions we ask now will 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 operation today.

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