If car sales collapse, it won’t be because of sharing

by Gabe Nelson : autornews – excerpt

“In the long run,” the report says, “autonomous vehicles will have a much greater impact on new-car sales than car-sharing will.”

OAKLAND, Calif. — Around the corner from my house, two Ford Focus hatchbacks sit side by side in a gas station parking lot. They belong to City Carshare, a 15-year-old San Francisco nonprofit that rents cars by the hour like Zipcar…

But as much as I like the idea of car-sharing, it wouldn’t make much sense. Unless I’m running errands or shopping at Target, it’s easier to use a ride-hailing service such as Uber or Lyft, which doesn’t require me to find a parking space and doesn’t charge me for a car that’s sitting idle in a parking lot.

So I wasn’t surprised at all to read the results of a report today by Boston Consulting Group, which estimated that car-sharing will reduce global vehicle sales by 550,000 in 2021 and cost manufacturers roughly $8 billion in revenue.

That might sound like a lot of cars and money. It’s not…

So why are automakers pushing so hard into car-sharing?…

The reason is autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles, according to BCG, promise to erase the distinction between ride-hailing and car-sharing. Zipcar and Uber are almost exactly the same if no one is driving.

“In the long run,” the report says, “autonomous vehicles will have a much greater impact on new-car sales than car-sharing will.”

That’s the important point. Right now there’s a competition to get ready for a future with ubiquitous autonomous pods. Car-sharing may not be economically viable on a large scale, but experts believe that autonomous pods will be.

For companies like GM, which formed Maven as its “personal mobility” brand in January, car-sharing serves as a transitional business model to get there… (more)

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