Technology is evolving all the time. Fact. And this is impacting every individual, business, industry, and the car supplying industry is certainly no exception. The cars we drive are becoming more intelligent by the day due to technical advancements and now come equipped with a multitude of modernised features such as steering and lane control assistance, remote control parking and mobile phone integration. So why, with all this fancy new technology to play with, are some automotive executives in the industry predicting that the number of people buying cars is going to drop drastically over the next decade?
It’s a catch twenty-two. The answer is technology. Surveys are indicating that within the next 10 years more than half of today’s car owners will not own a car due to driverless cars taking over the roads. In an article produced by Motor Finance, John Leech, UK head of automotive at KPMG said, “I believe robot taxis will revolutionise UK urban transportation in the second half of the next decade.”
There has certainly been huge progress towards driverless cars reaching the UK roads, but will they really be replacing more than half of vehicles owned today, within the next twenty years? Last year in November 2017, Chancellor Philip Hammond’s said the aim was for driverless cars to be on the UK roads by 2021, however there is lots of debate relating to safety, as to whether autonomous cars are really ready for this deadline. Waymo, the Google Self-driving car project, started building their autonomous technology in 2009 and are currently running a trial ride-hailing service in Phoenix Arizona. They were aiming for the service to be available for public use by the end of this year however, they experienced a slight set back in May when one of their test cars was involved in a serious collision. While the crash was apparently caused by human error from another driver, it has now highlighted the issue of “how do driverless cars react to human error?”. While they may be programmed to react to traffic lights and other vehicles, human behaviour can be unpredictable, and this is something that needs to be addressed.
Let’s say for a minute that autonomous cars are fully functioning, safety approved and on the roads in the UK by 2021. Would people keep hold of their own vehicles or would there really be no need to own a car? Paul Nash, Global Head of Asset Finance & Leasing at Pricewaterhouse Coopers provides some interesting food for thought in his recently published article in Motor Finance, “What is the best way to get from A to B?”. He is of the view that people will continue to own cars over the next decade, however, due to changes in technology some may choose to access them in new, alternative methods such as car subscriptions. Nash talks in depth about the four main factors that influence people’s decisions on how they travel, and he is confident there will be segments of the population who will still look to own a vehicle due to their location and lifestyle. The article is definitely worth a read, discussing the changes in technology and the wider impact it will have on the way we travel, but draws to a conclusion that despite the advancements we are expecting to see over the next decade, car ownership will remain the most cost-effective transport solution for most drivers.
And where will these people go to find their cars? Well, according to Nash, trusted online platforms like ours will be the best place for customers to fulfil their future car buying needs.
So what does car ownership look like today? According to Government Annual Vehicle Licensing Statistics from the Department of Transport, last year 3.1 million vehicle owners were registered in Great Britain and industry figures reveal over one million of these cars were brought on finance, which is a record number.
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