From owning to sharing: future of cars

Do you have a dream car? If so, a dream may be all it will ever be. Privately owned cars are unused around 95% of the time. With this in mind, companies are right now working on modern solutions to replace selling cars for individual use. One of those is car sharing. It goes hand in hand with the progress of the sharing economy and is clearly a hot topic.  “Bolt invests in car-sharing – puts in 200 million” and “Volkswagen launches subscription car model in Germany” are only two of the latest articles related to the topic from Dagens Industri. So, what does the future of cars look like? Will we own our vehicles, or is sharing the future? 

The market for sharing cars has grown rapidly. A once empty market is now competitive. One example, a popular alternative in Sweden, is Lynk & Co. It is a sister company to Volvo that sells cars as well as offers car subscriptions. Customers that buy their own cars are also offered the opportunity to then rent them out through Lynk. Volvo, and their M, is another service for what they call “smart car-sharing”. M delivers a clear message on their webpage: “We want to upgrade – from owning to access – and make room for a sustainable future”.

Bolt Drive is a third. According to Bolts CEO, Markus Villig, private cars take up too much space and are bad for the environment. Car sharing may therefore be a better alternative – especially in cities. So as you can see, big companies are  heading for the car-sharing market, offering tailored solutions for their customers. The  common factor: you shouldn’t have to own a car to easily access one.

But are companies really interested in renting out their cars instead of selling them? They are! A decreasing interest in buying cars is seen in younger generations and people that live in cities – something that worries the car industry and makes them want to try new concepts.

Companies are also taking more responsibility for the environment. Since cars owned by private persons remain unused 95% of the time, there are strong incentives to increase the usage per car and therefore decrease the numbers of cars produced. Volvo, Volkswagen, Bolt and Lync are all mentioning the environmental pros of going from  owning to sharing in their marketing. With many of the vehicles being modern electric or hybrid models, they also contribute to reduced emissions.

Magnus Engervall, head of the car subscription service Imove, believes that car sharing is only the beginning and that we are heading towards a future where automated robot taxis drive people around without being owned by anyone. Many people have the same theory. So yes, and no: car sharing may not be the future, but it may be one step on the way. 

Personally, as I picture myself living in a city in the upcoming years, I don’t think I would buy a car. Renting a parking space, paying for taxes and changing to winter tires are problems I would like to avoid for now. But getting to rent an electric vehicle for one or two months during the summer with services included? Using a service that allows me to rent a car from time to time, day today? That intrigues me! The freedom of hiring may not  yet be spotless, and certainly still a bit expensive. Car-sharing is a fast-growing business but like every modernity, it takes a while to adapt to society and lower the price levels. I am very curious about what the future holds.

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