Will YOU Give up Your Car by 2025?
News entry dated 11th Jan 2017

A fascinating new survey, reported on by The Guardian, suggests that 50% of UK car owners will choose not to own their own vehicle by 2025, preferring instead to use self-driving cars and “robot taxis.” Much as this may sound like the stuff of science fiction, it’s fair to point out that these technologies already exist and are in increasing use across the world.

It’s important to note that the survey addressed 800 people in the car manufacturing industry and not a cross-section of society. Even so, their suppositions do much to paint a picture of how we can expect the motoring industry to change within the next decade.

Perhaps the biggest news is that the industry people surveyed don’t expect the traditional model of building cars and selling them through dealers to be the prime focus of car manufacturers. Instead, they visualise an increasing crossover between car manufacturers and technology companies.

Self drive car

Building cars “with technological add-ons” is the predicted main focus. Manufacturers also see a future in creating “connected cars” where the manufacturer sells supplementary services and has an ongoing relationship with the owner through a vehicle’s lifetime.

At such an early stage it’s hard to predict exactly how this will work in practice, but the way Apple’s ecosystem can become part of your life if you own an iPad and an iPhone immediately springs to mind!

Will the UK blaze a trail?

Although the UK’s not yet leading the way globally when it comes to connected or electric cars, industry players believe the country is well suited to the “robot taxis” that many believe will tempt people to give up the convenience of their own vehicle.

This is due to how our populations are distributed and the high cost of fuel in Britain. This does make more sense than somewhere like America where fuel is cheap and the distance between places can be vast.

The report places much emphasis on the “digital services” that car firms are convinced will one day be at least as important as car manufacturing itself. One possible vision for the future is that you may one day step out of your home into a self-driving vehicle made by Ford and use Apple or Google’s infrastructure to help you get to where you’re going and handle the payment. Whether this sounds exciting or terrifying will obviously depend on your personal point of view!

That said, it’s worth reemphasising that these predictions really aren’t from the pages of science fiction. The technologies already exist and are well beyond “version 1.0” in many cases. Furthermore, the success of ride sharing services and car clubs do indeed prove that many people are open to the idea of alternatives to car ownership.

Hello electric, Goodbye diesel?

As discussed in a recent article here, it seems that tough times loom for diesel drivers as the government tries to reach pollution targets. Regardless of what happens in the short term, it certainly seems that industry figures agree the end is in sight for such vehicles.

62% of survey respondents said that diesel was “losing importance,” and 90% expect electric cars to “dominate” by 2025. If you remain a skeptic about electric vehicles, it seems that the majority of the motoring industry now disagree with you.

What do think the roads will look like in 2025? Do you think you’ll still have a car of your own? Let us know in the comments.

IMAGE: Flickr, Silver Blue, cc-by-sa-2.0

Antony Webster January 23, 2017

Nobody seems to have mentioned that it is the infrastructure that is needed. We see a lot about UK generating capacity being on a knife edge. Without excess electricity generation, I do not believe electric vehicles will be adopted as widely as anticipated. The charging points are few and far between in any case. As someone who has owned a plug-in hybrid, the network of charging just isn't up to the job, other than on motorways.
I have reverted to petrol, for the time being as there will no doubt now be a witch hunt against diesel cars.
How will self driving cars fit in when others continue to drive and what about vans and trucks, will they be self driving, too ? Motorways are gridlocked a good deal but with everything driving exactly at the speed limit will it improve ?
Even more of an issue, since accidents will happen, given a scenario when a self driving car has to decide whether to crash into a wall or hit a pedestrian, how will it react ?
I have some skepticism about the technology and whether it will develop.

M O'Regan January 12, 2017

Those of us living in rural areas will still need our own vehicles. Lack of charging points and poor range will prevent uptake of electric vehicles by the majority, until these issues are addressed.

I would love to own an electric vehicle, but, until they produce a 4WD pick-up, or large "Jeep" with rapid charge, 300 mile range and the same performance as conventional cars, they are no use to me.

A small car is no use to me, neither is 2WD-only. I need the ability to drive on unmade roads, (usually in poor repair), adverse conditions and also carry large, heavy roads.

In any case, I can't afford a new car.

Mike Beach January 12, 2017

As a retired engineer independent of the motor-industry, I agree with Chris Daniels that the timescale for "full" development is likely to be longer than some estimates, but I am more optimistic about acceptance. An evolutionary path is needed, as has occurred with communication over the last century, where the current state of the internet could not have been predicted from, say, the first amplifying device. Here, the evolutionary path will include increasing levels of "driver assistance", trust by drivers and passengers, and acceptance of some loss of control in the same way that we currently accept when using public transport. But as ever, the real driver will be decreasing cost and increasing efficiency. When the daily journey to work is quicker, cheaper and more reliable than achievable with manually-driven cars, "lift-off" will occur, with private cars as we know them becoming first the preserve of the wealthy, and eventually prohibited from public roads. New industries will emerge, such as a driving experience away form the public roads in manually-controlled cars (like an extension of the "supercar experiences" one can currently enjoy) and service industries to maintain the vehicles. Greatly improved usage of the road system will reduce or eliminate the need to build more roads; return journeys to ferry non-drivers will become one-way; accidents will be almost eliminated; fuel usage will be dramatically reduced, and road congestion will become a nightmare memory of an earlier era. The basic technology exists now, but much technical and social development lies ahead. It will take time.

Derek Shanks January 12, 2017

By 2025 I expect the roads to become gridlocked, the price & weight of batteries makes todays expensive electric cars unpractical, new battery technology & a huge reduction in prices is required.

Peter Butler January 12, 2017

I just wonder how self driving cars will manage in snow which needs a different driving technique when driving on roads in perfect condition

David Stokes January 12, 2017

Interesting article. Paragraph 4/5 have been repeated though

Chris Daniels January 12, 2017

Having lived through innumerable 'that's only the stuff of science fiction' ideas' becoming reality, I agree that driverless cars could become more common, but the time scale seems very short to me. Given the demographic of the survey, it sounds like the old mistake of expecting technology push to determine the market, whereas it's always consumer demand that wins.
Many of us lead lives whose complexity is only made possible by immediate access to our own vehicles. Now I'm retired I could cope with robot taxis but I couldn't have done it when I was working and raising a family. I also remain to be convinced that the 'taxis' would be economically viable for the majority of us. I could see it working for the type of person who trades in for a new car every three years, but for the vast numbers who eke out the lives of old models and only replace them when they absolutely have to, maybe not.