By 2030, nearly no one in the US may own a personal car. Instead, most Americans would hail self-driving, electric ride-shares to get around.
That’s one prediction by analysts in a new report that examines technology and personal car ownership.
Its authors — Tony Seba, a RethinkX think tank cofounder and Stanford instructor, and James Arbib, a tech investor and philanthropist — say the future of city transportation will manifest as a network of communal, autonomous electric cars owned by ride-share companies. If this future comes true, it has major implications for the US transportation system.
Here are a few predictions from the study:
Private car ownership will drop 80% by 2030 in the US
- The number of passenger vehicles on American roads will go from 247 million in 2020 to 44 million in 2030
- Using electric ride-shares will be four to 10 times cheaper per mile than buying a new car by 2021 (And each family could save up to $US5,600 per year, compared to purchasing and maintaining a traditional vehicle)
- Global oil demand will peak at 100 million barrels per day by 2020, and decrease to 70 million barrels per day by 2030
- Savings on transportation costs will result in a boost in annual disposable income for US households totaling $US1 trillion by 2030
If the majority of Americans switch to autonomous, electric ride-shares, it could greatly affect how the US cities plans its streets. The report suggests that fewer cars will travel more miles by 2030, because ride-shares may never need to park. When they would drop off passengers, they would keep going to pick up new passengers, which would open up vast tracts of land for new uses, like wider footpaths and more housing, parks, and zones where cars are banned.
On average, cars sold in the US sit parked more than 95% of the time. But if fewer cars were on the road, cities could find other uses for street lanes and parking garages. Some cities are already preparing for this future. San Francisco, for example, has turned a number of parking spaces into “parklets,” small grassy public spaces that include benches, plants, and (sometimes) artwork. Pittsburgh has also said it will likely stop building more street lanes within the next two decades, in anticipation of a wider adoption of driverless vehicles.
A number of auto companies are racing to create a driverless future. In 2016, Tesla hinted at its intentions to develop a ride-hailing service, and later that year, it announced that its new electric vehicles will have hardware that will eventually enable full autonomy. Around the same time, Uber became the first company to pilot a fleet of driverless cars in the real world: in Pittsburgh. Though these are private vehicles that use gas, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has described UberPool (the app’s feature that allows strangers to share a ride for a reduced fare) as the future of his company and, he believes, the future of transportation in America.
“I’m confident that the percentage of people who are driving their own car everywhere will go down,” Andrew Salzberg, Uber’s head of transportation policy, previously told Business Insider.
The authors of the study believe that parking will eventually become obsolete, so cities will need to rethink planning and road infrastructure decisions.
“We are on the cusp of one of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruptions of transportation in history,” Seba said in a press release. “But there is nothing magical about it. This is driven by the economics.”
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