I’m a petrol head. I’ve loved cars since I was a small child, I’ve owned hundreds in my lifetime, and I worked for car manufacturers for more than twenty years.
But, even as a commited car lover, I accept that we are either very close to or may have reached “Peak Car.” The point at which car ownership around the world begins to tail off.
Where we are now
Currently, nothing has changed in over a century. Just like my father, and his father before him, I own a car which is powered by an internal combustion engine, I paid a lot of money for it, and it sits in my driveway for the vast majority of its time.
The last seven days have been typical — the app tells me I have driven for a total of 222 minutes in the last seven days. That’s just over 2% usage. By any measure, that’s a waste. A waste of my hard earned money, a waste of the space it sits on, and a waste of the incredible technology of the machine.
It’s also a waste that the car is a five seater, with a reasonably sized boot, when for 98% of journeys, we only use one or two of those seats. At the other end of the scale, when we need to collect a large item or transport more than five people, we have to hire a van or a people carrier. While our car sits outside the rental office.
The Next Step
We’re actually pretty close to the next step now — car sharing. I’ll probably still own my next car, and it will be electric. But I’ll have the option to offer it out, via an app, to other users. This is already working in some countries, and I suspect will become mainstream here in Europe over the next two to three years.
Perhaps my neighbours will subscribe to the app — they can come and collect my car, take it out when they need to, and they will be charged a fee based on the miles driven. I’ll get the income to offset some of the costs of buying and running it. I’ll still be able to pre book my car, so it will always be available when I need it. Perhaps we’ll get that 2% usage up to 10 or more.
Where We’re Heading
I won’t own a car at all. I’ll be a subscriber to a manufacturer’s app, which will give me access to their whole range of cars. I will only pay for usage.