The car you drive to work has a steering wheel, a floor pedal, an infotainment system, and an emotionally intelligent AI system that can understand your driving patterns and preferences.
But when you arrive to work, you don’t park your car. Instead, you get out and the car continues moving forward autonomously, on its way to pick up another person and make you money through ridesharing, all while you head into the office for your day job.
Such a future of shared, level 5 autonomous and even electric or hybrid vehicles is not as futuristic as it seems. When Honda Motor Co. unveiled a concept car at Consumer Electronics Show 2017, called NeuV, the company offered up a vision of a ridesharing future in which new value was added to a car by functioning as an automated ridesharing vehicle, picking up and dropping off customers at local destinations when the owner is not using the car, which is between 95% and 98% of the time, according to several studies.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) mobility sharing is not as novel a concept as it seems. Examples of such marketplaces include Turo, Getaround, and Drivy for P2P car rentals, SpinLister for P2P bike rentals, and Boatbound for P2P boat rentals. So, it is not the possibility that is in question, but the probability of whether private owners would purchase an autonomous vehicle and create a business with it. Or would traditional rideshare companies like Uber or Lyft dominate the space? Or would it be OEMs that will supersede everyone by maintaining ownership of autonomous vehicles for their own private rideshares.
When P2P car sharing first began, the concern initially from OEMs was that these marketplaces would cannibalize car sales. However, the consensus appears to be that car sharing has had a positive impact on the market because car sharing offsets the costs of owning a vehicle, meaning there is now more incentive to buy a vehicle if one knows they can easily afford it, said Steve Webb, director of communications and community for Turo. The growth in P2P insurance also adds to the probability of an autonomous P2P market among private individuals.
But there are some skeptics who believe that peer-to-peer autonomous ridesharing will not be as popular.
“For people who purchased own cars, some people will go for it, [but] I don’t expect it to be widespread. People who own their own cars — they keep things in their cars, [and do] not want strangers riding around in their cars,” said Sam Abuelsamid, a senior research analyst, of Navigant Research.
He also added that cost of purchasing an autonomous vehicle may keep private owners at bay, even if autonomous ridesharing is an option.
“I’m less convinced that those vehicles will even be available for purchase. Most will only be made available through ride-hailing services,” Abuelsamid said.
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