Techdirt Podcast Episode 28: Is Car Ownership On The Way Out?

from the the-future-of-mobility dept

The explosive rise of Uber, ride-sharing programs, and other on-demand mobility services has led many to wonder if the whole concept of car ownership is on its way out, at least for city-dwellers. This week we're joined by Upshift founder Ezra Goldman, who recently wrote a manifesto for the future of mobility and helps us delve far beyond a surface analysis of transportation trends.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2015 @ 1:06pm

    Cars mabey, I want my truck.

    F350 Superduty, four doors and an eight foot bed. Totally not worried about all ya all stacked into New York City figuring out how to get around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ezra (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 1:31pm

      Re: Cars mabey, I want my truck.

      Agreed. It will be a long time before most of these solutions make sense outside of dense urban environments, so we must continue to innovate so more and more people can have access to new transportation options. Autonomous vehicles will make new mobility options viable in lower density areas as well.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2015 @ 1:15pm

    Uber and ride sharing, however, both require a decent base of people who own cars.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 2:13pm

      Re:

      For the moment. All those freelance drivers are just the foot in the door.

      Once autonomous vehicles become practical, Uber will no doubt replace freelance drivers with their own fleet of driverless cars. Taxi services will no doubt do the same regardless of Uber.

      There are exceptions of course. There will always be areas without the detailed 3D mapping or mobile bandwidth required for Google's fleet. A human driver may be sent based on your pickup and destination addresses.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 1:22pm

    Hobbies

    If you have no hobbies or sports that involve equipment of any size that requires transport then maybe - but a lot of people do so no cars are not on the way out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ezra (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 1:28pm

      Re: Hobbies

      Totally agreed, that's why we are building Upshift to give you access to a car for a day at the push of a button when you need to carry things or go longer distances.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2015 @ 1:42pm

    No.

    Call me old fashioned but like my songs, games, and other media I own I like to own what I buy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2015 @ 1:44pm

    I'll keep my truck thank you. From time to time I need to do light hauling. From time to time I need to pull a trailer. I can't do either of those with Uber. Just yesterday I used my trailer. I didn't have to pay someone to deliver something to me, I took care of it myself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 2:09pm

      Re:

      I, too, need to pull a trailer every so often. I'm certainly not going to buy a truck for it, though. It's much cheaper and easier to rent one.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2015 @ 2:16pm

      Re:

      "From time to time I need to do light hauling. From time to time I need to pull a trailer."

      Haven't you heard? It's "stealing" to do something for yourself that you could hire someone else to do for you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 3:22pm

      Re:

      From time to time I need to do light hauling. From time to time I need to pull a trailer. I can't do either of those with Uber.

      Did you listen to the podcast? We actually make it clear that Uber alone is not going to get rid of cars. We talk about a variety of *other* things that might get people to that point.

      For example, if, from time to time, you need to pull a trailer, then what if you could just have a rental truck delivered to you at those times, rather than having to own one for all the times you don't need to pull a trailer?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 2:08pm

    I hope so

    I would be thrilled if there were far fewer cars around, and even more thrilled if I didn't have to own one. Unfortunately, at least where I live, there is no reasonable alternative and it doesn't look like there will be one anytime soon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2015 @ 2:19pm

      Re: I hope so

      I don't think I want to become a street person just to avoid owning a car, and that seems to be the alternative.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Leigh Beadon (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 4:47pm

        Re: Re: I hope so

        A street person as in a homeless person?

        I can assure you, there are lots of non-homeless people who don't own cars... At least a dozen. Or, y'know, millions.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2015 @ 7:01am

          Re: Re: Re: I hope so

          If you are not one of the privileged and have to work for a living, in many places not owning a car will make you unemployed and consequently homeless. Someone told me the other day that our local McDonald's will not even hire people without their own car because the alternatives are so unreliable that they can't depend on them getting to work on time.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Leigh Beadon (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 7:34am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

            If you listened to the podcast, you'd know that we are primarily talking about city-dwellers. If you live in a city, it is far more expensive to own a car. The privileged are those who can afford not just the car and gas and insurance but the high parking prices and the constant, unavoidable tickets; the average person takes transit or walks to work.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2015 @ 9:31am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

              Umm, you do realize that New York City, San Fransisco and Chicago are not the only cities in the world , right? How about San Antonio, the seventh most populated city in the U.S. and where the referenced McDonald's is located? Not a city? I think many of the residents might disagree. Try walking from a home on one side of the city to a job on the other and tell me how that works out for you. Hint, that's not how the average person gets to work there.

              But, of course, if we're just fantasizing about future possibilities, I'd say that personal teleportation, a la Star Trek, would replace not only cars but even things like Uber.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Leigh Beadon (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 3:20pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

                Umm, you do realize that New York City, San Fransisco and Chicago are not the only cities in the world , right? How about San Antonio, the seventh most populated city in the U.S. and where the referenced McDonald's is located?

                Well personally I was thinking of Toronto, where I live. But go ahead and make all the assumptions you want. You're the one who started out by making the utterly, obviously absurd assumption that not having a car means being homeless.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2015 @ 3:49pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

                  Those were the cities mentioned in the podcast. The assumption was that you had listened to it.

                  Oh, and by the way, there are cities in the world other than Toronto, as well. Unbelievable, I know, but it's true. And in many cities the average person today cannot hold a job without a car.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Mike Masnick (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 4:14pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

                    And in many cities the average person today cannot hold a job without a car.

                    That's wrong. They cannot hold a job without *transportation* which is the point of the podcast. If there were alternative forms of transportation that are more effective and cheaper, then they wouldn't need to own a car.

                    Which was what we said on the podcast that you're now slamming.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2015 @ 5:21pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

                      That's wrong.

                      OK, I'll bite. What viable "alternative forms of transportation" are available to the average San Antonio McDonald's worker today?

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        Leigh Beadon (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 8:51pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

                        Why are you so focused on the one group in one city today, in a conversation that is all about trends and the future?

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        Mike Masnick (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 9:23pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

                        OK, I'll bite. What viable "alternative forms of transportation" are available to the average San Antonio McDonald's worker today?

                        Er, the whole point of the podcast is that no one's replacing their cars *today* but looking at the trends and where they're going.

                        The idea being that down the road enough of these services will be in place to make it perfectly reasonable for a larger segment of the population not to own a car.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2015 @ 5:49pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

                      Oh, and by the way, I'm not slamming the podcast, which I actually thought was quite good. I do, however, question whether the statement that "If you live in a city, it is far more expensive to own a car" is generally accurate.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        Leigh Beadon (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 8:50pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

                        Nobody is claiming that's true for every person in every city.

                        It is currently true for many people in many cities. And there are a number of clear trends and growing services that suggest it's going to rapidly become true for even more people in even more cities. Perhaps even eventually most people in most cities.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2015 @ 3:12am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

                          "Nobody is claiming that's true for every person in every city."

                          Hey, I know of an even better to get to work that wasn't even mentioned. Just open the door and walk through. Takes about 2 seconds, doesn't require any transportation devices at all and people are doing it today. Blows those "alternative transportation" ideas completely away!

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                          • icon
                            Mike Masnick (profile), 11 Jun 2015 @ 5:23am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

                            Hey, I know of an even better to get to work that wasn't even mentioned. Just open the door and walk through. Takes about 2 seconds, doesn't require any transportation devices at all and people are doing it today. Blows those "alternative transportation" ideas completely away!

                            We actually DID discuss walking as the better alternative in many cases.

                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Leigh Beadon (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 7:35am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

            (And I dunno about your local McDonald's or what "someone told you", but in my city at least, the majority of McDonald's employees could never hope to afford a car, unless they are teenagers getting help from mom and dad)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2015 @ 9:52am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

              "(And I dunno about your local McDonald's or what "someone told you", but in my city at least, the majority of McDonald's employees could never hope to afford a car, unless they are teenagers getting help from mom and dad)"

              Welcome to the world of the working poor in many cities, where they plow a good portion of their meager earnings back into cars trying to keep a way to get to their measly jobs.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                ezra (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 10:18am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope so

                Your comments are well founded. As I made clear in the podcast, these solutions will start in the major cities like San Francisco, Chicago, NYC, etc. Uber is operating in San Antonio and Zipcar has a car at UT San Antonio. It is difficult to get demand in places where there is not higher density development and parking constraints, all of which I mentioned in the beginning of the talk. It is also true that many of these services are currently too expensive for people with low wage jobs and it is true that they spend a lot of their working hours paying off transportation (and housing) costs. Hopefully, with autonomous networks of shared vehicles, we can provide more affordable and more convenient point-to-point transportation solutions, even for McDonald's workers in San Antonio. It is going to take time to get there, but that is the long term aim.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2015 @ 2:13pm

    Uber

    I would like to point out that Uber drivers generally own cars.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 2:36pm

    I'll welcome the day I don't need to own a car, but until then I'll enjoy my brand spanking new Legacy that I just picked up from the dealership last Tuesday.

    It's shiny.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 3:39pm

    Is Car Ownership On The Way Out?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 4:50pm

      Re: Is Car Ownership On The Way Out?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 9:55pm

        Re: Re: Is Car Ownership On The Way Out?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 6:17am

          Re: Re: Re: Is Car Ownership On The Way Out?

          Tell me, honestly: have you listened to the podcast?

          If not, I suggest you do that before dismissing the entire idea. There's a half-hour of detailed discussion there, and your attempt to brush it all off with a youtube clip just makes you look simple.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            JoeCool (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 11:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Is Car Ownership On The Way Out?

            I've worked in driver's ed and defensive driving over three states for decades, and one thing that has NEVER changed is that the vast majority of vehicles on the road have exactly one person in them - the driver. That doesn't look to change any time soon. What they talk about in the pod cast is a tiny fraction that is important, but doesn't reflect the rest of the whole. It's LAUGHABLE to suggest otherwise, hence the initial post. The idea that car ownership is on the way out because of a barely noticeable blip is retarded. Yes - I went there. :P

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Mike Masnick (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 1:31pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is Car Ownership On The Way Out?

              It's LAUGHABLE to suggest otherwise, hence the initial post. The idea that car ownership is on the way out because of a barely noticeable blip is retarded. Yes - I went there. :P

              Uh. Ok. None of this has anything to do with the actual discussion we were having. I don't see why you think because of your observations of people on the roads, that it has any impact on the kinds of points being made in the podcast.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Leit, 11 Jun 2015 @ 12:45am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is Car Ownership On The Way Out?

                Then maybe *don't present your argument with clickbait headlines that you have to defend in almost every comment*?

                Don't be Gawker. No-one likes Gawker.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Mike Masnick (profile), 11 Jun 2015 @ 5:23am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is Car Ownership On The Way Out?

                  Then maybe *don't present your argument with clickbait headlines that you have to defend in almost every comment*?

                  1. It's not a clickbait headline.
                  2. It's a podcast, and the point is to listen to the whole discussion.
                  3. The discussion itself was about the question in the headline. In other words, the headline is an accurate portrayal of the question we used as the jumping off point for the podcast.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              ezra (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 2:25pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is Car Ownership On The Way Out?

              In the first sentence of the interview, I made the caveat that we are mainly focused on dense urban markets for the foreseeable future.

              The average vehicle occupancy is 1.67 per vehicle which has been trending downward aside from social/recreational trips, which tend to be 2.2. You are likely referring to work trips which are at 1.13. See p 33 of the 2009 NHTS: http://nhts.ornl.gov/2009/pub/stt.pdf

              As anyone in the tech industry knows, paradigm shifts do not happen overnight, en masse. They start in niche, beachhead markets that seem inconsequential before going viral. Significant shifts in niche markets are to be written off at one's peril. Change takes time and starts small, but impact will nevertheless be large over time.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me, 10 Jun 2015 @ 4:30am

    No

    No its not

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ezra (profile), 10 Jun 2015 @ 2:50pm

    See page 37 of this report http://nhts.ornl.gov/2009/pub/stt.pdf

    Vehicle ownership trends downward as population density trends upward. As more people live in denser environments, fewer people need to own cars. For existing solutions to work, we need high density. Automation may enable us to get to somewhat lower densities as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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