I attended the LA Auto Show a couple of weeks ago. It made me think about the future of the auto industry as well as the need to reduce emissions and congestion. Car sharing could be a viable option for accomplishing a number of objectives.
More people sharing vehicles through carpooling or services like Uber means fewer cars on the road and decreases the demand for the total number of cars produced each year. Each car would be used more and spend less time sitting idle. This would decrease costs to consumers.
Emissions can be reduced with a combination of clean technology and the reduction in production. Smog layers and traffic jams could become phenomena of the past.
At first the idea of sharing cars may seem like an unattainable goal. However, as more communities embrace the idea and overcome shortcomings, more communities will catch on. Uber (and other similar companies) can be used as an example as baby steps from exclusively individual car ownership to an increase in shared cars.
For example, Carsharing, a membership-based service often run by private companies or non-profit organizations, gives people access to shared vehicles for short-term use. Automated, self-driving cars are on the horizon, and conventional cars in a city replaced by a fleet of shared self-driving vehicles could achieve the objectives above. Cities can make the most of this trend by preparing for the different infrastructural demands of a car sharing system.
Written by Brett Poirier, a new Research Assistant at RSG