With all of the global fascination over Uber, Lyft, shared rides, mobility services, and automated driving, a historic question inevitably comes up: Will new vehicle sales plunge because of it?
Stanford professor Tony Seba predicts by 2030, 95 percent of consumers in the world won’t own a car; and that all cars will be electric by 2025. Seba gives figures based on what new technologies like smartphones, such as Apple’s iPhone, have done to cause revolutionary changes in concentrated periods of time.
Seba’s viewpoint is considered to be too farfetched by many, but many analysts predict huge changes in transportation over the next decade – driven by explosive growth in Uber and Lyft rides, major moves by automakers in mobility services, and how viable autonomous vehicles appear to be in the relatively near future. Related: Rise In Rig Count Threatens To Undermine Recent Oil Price Spike
We’ve also seen significant forecasts coming from oil industry majors like Total S.A. and Shell about oil consumption declining by about 2030. Their economist reports point to growth in alternative fuels and technologies like vehicle electrification, and strict government regulatory mandates coming down in Europe and China.
There are few other experts who would disagree with vehicles sales taking a dive.
Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist for General Motors, earlier this month said that he doesn’t expect to see surging growth in Lyft and Uber rides, and carsharing through Maven and Zipcar, along with the introduction of autonomous vehicles, to mean we’ll see a lot less vehicles on roads in the next 10 years. With drivers of these shared rides putting 25,000 to 50,000 miles per year on their cars, it will accelerate the replacement cycle, he said.
Car sales aren’t likely to drop significantly, he said. While cars are better made than they were a decade ago, putting 50,000 miles a year on a new car means that hitting the 150,000-mile benchmark can happen in less than three years. That car had been more likely to be owned seven-to-10 years, and sometimes longer.
Automakers will continue selling these cars, and they will need fuel.
On the self-driving car front, more corporate deals continue being made. Google’s Waymo self-driving car unit and Lyft just announced a partnership bringing self-driving rides to roads. Google had initially been in discussions with Uber about that type of arrangement and had invested significantly in the ride-hailing giant. That’s ended in debacle as the companies have pulled away and entered their own phases of autonomous vehicle testing. A lawsuit filed by Waymo over alleged stolen intellectual property from its self-driving technology, has placed a deep wedge between the two companies.
Several other companies have joined into the automated vehicle and mobility service front, including Apple, Tesla, Ford, General Motors, BMW, Intel, Uber, Lyft, and several more. It’s a very hot topic right now, but we’re still a few years out from seeing the technology tested and approved for safety.
It is moving forward much faster than expected. With rapid growth seen in ride-hailing services, and related mobility services from startups and major companies, transportation is in the process of seeing historic change. What that will mean for car sales and fuel consumption is yet to be seen.
By Jon LeSage for Oilprice.com
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