the autonomous economy

Since the AppStore launch in July 2008 there has been an undeniable shift in the way that businesses work with their customers. Almost everything that can be done with an App is already out there or is coming soon. Within the transportation sector we have already seen a huge shift in economics as commuters are choosing to leave their vehicles at home and get to their destinations via a ride-share provider. As this trend continues it will build more consumer confidence and trust as they become even more reliable, efficient and cheaper.  When ridesharing Apps couple with Autonomous vehicles we will see another huge shift in consumer behavior. When this happens car ownership will be legitimately challenged and our transportation infrastructure in the dense urban core will change dramatically as we enter the Autonomous Economy.


it's happening now

Autonomous vehicle fleets will quickly become widespread and will account for the majority of rideshare fares within 5 years. Key indicators are: 

  1. The average US owned vehicle is used only 4% of the time and parked the other 96% of the time. That’s the equivalent of 240 million of the 250 million cars being parked at all times. For the most part, your car isn’t actually a driving machine, it’s a parking machine. In 2011, researchers estimated that there are at least 700 million parking spaces in the U.S. That means our country has more than 6,000 square miles of parking — bigger than my home state of Connecticut.
  2. While automobile usage is in decline rideshare usage among Lyft and Uber are at all time highs
  3. In 1983, 92% of 20 to 24-year-olds had driver’s licenses. In 2014 it was just 77%. In 1983, 46% of 16-year olds had licenses. Today it’s just 24%. All told, a millennial today is 30% less likely to buy a car than someone from the previous generation.

As a result, cities’ physical environment will change as cities pull out meters and replace them with safer Pick Up and Drop Off areas (PUDO). Car subscriptions and pooling services will continue to rise and commuters will realize that the average fixed cost of car ownership far outweighs the cost of rideshare and/or micro rental services.  Automotive manufactures and parking business models will need to quickly evolve to embrace these new technologies.  




The big players are taking action. Those who didn't innovate but rather strategy chose to sit on the sidelines to let the market evolve are now stepping in and partnering with/or acquiring the technologies they need to integrate to execute on their strategies. 

  • FORD - Purchased last mile provider Chariot, $1B acquisition of AI company Argo, have announced they will have fully autonomous cars on the road in 2021.
  • GM - Investing in $500M in Lyft, $1B acquisition of self-driving car startup Cruise, launching Maven a car-sharing service.
  • VOLVO - Partnering with Uber, Autonomous Ready Vehicle's
  • Uber - $680M Purchase of self-driving trucking company Otto

Every major automaker, parking provider, autonomous technology and rideshare provider are all moving in the same direction and cities and enterprises will need to prepare.



what will change

At the municipal level these technologies will justify the elimination of outdated technologies like Paper Tickets, Cash/Coin Meters, Human Parking enforcement, Monthly parking passes, Hang Tags, Snail Mail, etc. Cities will begin to "code the curb" so that rideshare providers, delivery vehicles and autonomous vehicles pay a micro-license in legal in pre-desiganted Pick Up and Drop Off zones. Rideshare providers will introduce "green fleets" that will be Subsidized by the City, the Fed (IRS Sec 132 benefits) and local business as an incentive. Individually owned autonomous vehicles will be able to park back at their homes or in satellite lots 10-20 minutes from congested downtown areas. Existing parking lots in dense urban areas will either be re-developed or will become waiting and service areas for rideshare and autonomous car parking. Subscriptions to rideshare and commuting solutions will outpace new car ownership amongst millennials.  These subscription services will account for all of commuter activity and provide complete multi-modal end-to-end commuter solutions. 


the experience

If anything all of these apps have given us a roadmap to what the user expects their experience to be -  its simple, beautifully designed, care free, on-demand, green, subsidized and and socially responsible.

Monthly parking passes will evolve into multi-modal commuter passes that allow users to drive, rideshare, carpool, bus, bike or walk or any combination all on one account subsidized by their employer, local businesses for patronizing, cities for green commuting and the IRS.

These ridesharing apps are already being coupled with Autonomous vehicles and solidifying that car ownership is less important than the Autonomous Experience.