London, Monday 22nd October 2018
Dana Khosrowshahi, UBER Chief Executive, set out a vision for Uber being purveyors of mobility from scooters to flying cars. “The great goal is getting rid of car ownership”, he said. Uber is getting ready for an IPO valuing the company at $100bn.
Last week, Daimler AG, which owns the brands: Mercedes-Benz and Smart, announced its second profit warning this year, evidencing the cyclical troubles facing the major German car brands, who are battling a dramatically weakening Chinese market, a drop-off in diesel sales in Europe. It was also a sign of a longer-term loss in interest in car ownership.
The two examples, within a week of each other, dramatically illustrated that in terms of personal car ownership, we peaked some years ago. Manufacturers who (such as Daimler AG) who have been very successful at serving the aspiration of car ownership will eventually run out of road.
However, in terms of the number of cars on the road, those look set to increase as Uber and other sharing services allow us to take advantage of personal on-demand car journeys at a cost which is competitive with public transport.
The International Transport Forum has made a study of the transfer of demand from public to private transport and that ride sharing would remove 9 out of 10 vehicles from the streets of a medium-sized European city – but crucially that vehicle use would still rise slightly. This is because we don’t actually use the cars we own very efficiently, but that is changing dramatically because of services like Uber.
What does this mean for the cars on our roads? Firstly, in the world-wide trend seeing more and more of the world’s population living in cities, cities themselves will see almost no personal cars, and mostly taxis/Uber cars, which will become greener and more autonomous. Instead of being basically family cars, they will become more specialised to the ride sharing purpose, with more seats and more versatile interiors, like vans or London cabs.
What does this mean for collector cars? Well, the need to have a multiple car garage with at least one daily driver is becoming a thing of the past. The ideal in the future might be to live in a leafy part of the city with a (tax and emissions exempt) classic stashed in a local lock-up for taking out for the odd evening or early morning blast, or for that weekend away. For daily driving needs you might opt for a taxi or Uber as it will be so convenient and economical. Your more extensive collection of cars will be warehoused somewhere in the country – somewhere with easy transport links but beautiful local roads – roads that will be becoming more and more empty of regular traffic.
The future of collector car ownership looks very bright indeed.