Self-driving cars are the next step in urban transportation. At the same time, owning cars via subscription is also growing. Soon, owning one car at a time will become a thing of the past.
In big cities built around the automobile like Houston, Texas, if you don’t own a car, it is very difficult to get around town. Some cities are built for automobile and pedestrian traffic, but every city has automobile infrastructure.
Since the rise of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, the ownership aspect of car-centric culture is changing. With the further advent and incorporation of car subscription services, owning a car might become altogether unnecessary.
That’s not to say that car sales or car use will be going down in any way, it’s just that the mode in which we travel in those cars is set to change significantly.
With the increasing development of self-driving cars and lift-sharing services, owning a car seems may soon become a thing of the past. With all of these changes and adaptations, it’s hard to know exactly what the best approach is to future transportation.
For many, a rental might be the ultimate solution. Even the co-founder of navigation app Waze is ditching car ownership.
Is the future of not needing to own a car already here?
Car Subscriptions are the new Lease
Leasing a car means paying a monthly premium while also having more freedom. Repairs are covered, you get a brand new car, and you can change it anytime. Car subscription services offer similar features, but also allow you to switch models whenever.
In theory, this feature is why car subscriptions may cost more than a lease. But, surprisingly, you have many options when it comes to getting a car subscription.
Yoyo is a car subscription service that claims you can drive any car at any time. Swapping a car is always an option and they offer per-mile pricing. They even call themselves the “Netflix for cars” on their Fundable page.
But this startup isn’t the only car subscription service in town. Zipcar has been around since 2000 and is now an Avis Budget Group subsidiary.
This year, however, car manufacturers are breaking into the subscription game.
We already saw Tesla roll out a subscription service for their Model 3. Volvo is following suit having implemented their subscription (formerly Luxe) in 2017. Cadillac, Porsche, and Ford also offer car subscription services, too.
Now, both BMW and Lexus have plans to offer subscriptions. Access by BMW launches April 2nd in Nashville and Lexus will release more details about theirs later this year. The release coincides with the launch of their new luxury compact crossover: the Lexus UX.
Car Rentals may Edge out Subscriptions With Self-Driving Cars
Self-driving cars are the future–period. Car companies know that this transition is inevitable.
However, this transition doesn’t entail the complete eradication of human-driven cars. But self-driving cars, when perfected, will likely be safer and cheaper for everyone.
Rather than offering a subscription to a self-driving car service, car rentals may be more popular.
Sonari Glinton wrote for NPR about cars affected by hurricanes in the U.S. in 2017. He specifically focused on how rental firms responded before the hurricanes hit by bringing in thousands of rentals in preparation for the destruction. He also talks about how their readiness to move 2.1 million cars signals the future of cars.
Executive Director of Auto Rental News, Chris Brown, elaborated on why rentals and self-driving cars are the future.
“[They]…have the ability to use artificial intelligence now, big data, combined with the collective wisdom of people that have been in the industry for 30 years to understand a customer’s wants and needs.”
In this transmutation and fusion of these different aspects, we see the seedling of Industry 4.0.
The Democratization of Industry Means More Fluid Exchange of Resources
The buzzword “Industry 4.0” gets tossed around a great deal these days. It has become shorthand for many things such as automation, democratization, and moving into a post-scarcity society.
But what Industry 4.0 really entails is the more fluid exchange of information and resources compared to previous eras. You can already see inklings of this in the financial industry with blockchain technology. You also see it in medical technology with the help of 3D printers.
Read More: How Close are we to 3D Printing Bodies?
Ride-sharing is just another example of how liquidity of information and resources translates into more direct access to that information and those resources. Plus, it affords people a way to use both more efficiently.
Now, it’s the automotive industry’s turn.
If they can embrace the shift toward self-driving car rentals from car ownership, they can thrive in an Industry 4.0 future.