Owning a car was once a key slice of the American piechart dream; a symbol of the halcyon of both youth and prosperity, waving like hair from an uncovered convertible.
But there are various emerging factors that may render the concept of car ownership outdated and improbable in the future, much to the discomfort of car enthusiasts and their large garages.
While those with both money and interest will probably always sport the hottest new vehicles, the following literal roadblocks make forever-ownership unlikely for the everyday folk.
Software & Copyright
Increasingly, cars are more than just metal and glass: they’re vehicles equipped with advanced software. Those familiar with software patents know that computer programs, like that in most new vehicles, are subject to copyright. That means it belongs not to the buyer, but the creator.
Think this is a bluff? Nope. GM itself has voiced this claim — even those that have “bought” their cars, in their eyes, are technically leasing the software embedded within them. So tinkering with your car in anyway that alters the software might be illegal.
As cars get more advanced and connected, it could be that they are leased instead of bought, and traded in for upgrades like a phone or laptop.
Urbanization[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”jpm7NyBr8doHJ2O87xegJ7KiR6jdIIdN”]Cities are expanding, meaning more urban living and less suburban sprawl. Young people in particular are flocking to urban areas, where there is easier than ever transit for the car-less.
Young Americans already already drive less than ever before, partially for this reason.
As cities become greener and more pedestrian friendly, cars will likely become deprioritized for urban dwellers, who can get around with relative ease and without the carbon footprint.
Gas is currently quite cheap, but this isn’t expected to last indefinitely. But even with low gas prices, cars come with price tags that young people especially can’t always afford, especially in addition to the high cost of rent, a weak job market, and hefty loans.
Today, some say it’s already cheaper to take taxi services everywhere you go than own a car in a big city. Which leads us to…
Ride sharing startup Uber, which is already disrupting city transport, has explicitly stated that their goals are even loftier: according to CEO Travis Kalanick, the company wants to challenge car dealerships by making Uber cheaper than buying.
Uber is just one of a growing number of ride-sharing companies that are rising to meet the demand for easy, affordable on-demand transport, for distances both long and short.
In the future, as self-driving cars eventually reach the market, it may be that you call a driverless car to chauffeur you to and fro instead of owning one. Surprise, surprise: Uber also has its eyes on driverless cars. Look out, Google.
Long story short? If you have a car, enjoy it while it’s got your name on it. If you don’t have a car? Well, life may just get a little more convenient.