Sharing economy disrupts car ownership model

16 December 2016

In the world where more than half of the population lives in densely populated urban areas, new mobility services like car-sharing are challenging the traditional model where we own our own car. This trend, together with autonomous and connected car technology, will likely revolutionize our individual travel patterns in the not so distant future.

If you haven’t already signed up for car-sharing, you will probably do so within the next decade, if you live in a city of a certain size. Changing consumer preferences, tightening regulations, and technological breakthroughs are pushing the mobility development forward. Today, we use our cars as all-purpose vehicles, whether we are commuting alone to work or take the whole family to the beach. In the future, we may want the flexibility to choose the best mobility solution for that specific purpose, on demand and via our smart phones. As a result, new segments of specialized vehicles designed for very specific needs are about to enter the market and so are new mobility solutions, like car-sharing.

Disrupting the traditional model

OEMs have acknowledged the trend and are now in the driving seat of the car sharing market, together with car rental and leasing companies. A handful of OEMs have already started their own car sharing schemes while the majority are working on vehicle automation, which is predicted to be the real game changer in this trend. As cars are being automated, car sharing services can offer self-parking services, allowing members to drop off vehicles at parking lots, later it will provide short-distance parking where self-driven cars are driven into parking lots, and finally complete automation will be included. At this stage, car sharing will be so convenient that it will truly disrupt the traditional owner-driven model.

Demand for cars will continue to grow

Despite a shift towards shared mobility, vehicle unit sales will continue to grow, but likely at a lower rate of about 2% per year. New mobility services may result in a decline of private-vehicle sales, but the decline is likely to be offset by increased sales in shared vehicles that need to be replaced more often due to higher utilization and related wear and tear. The cars sold will also be more purpose-made and thus more specialized models will enter the market.


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