The rapid rise of technology means many people no longer need to own a car.
That is the view of easyCar.com CEO Richard Laughton, who says the future of car use is a shared access model.
easyCar is a price comparison website for car rentals. Its easyCar club platform allows people to rent the private vehicles of others local to them, while the public can advertise spare seats for planned journeys using the recently launched easyCar pool.
“Everyone’s got a time when they need a car for something, but most people don’t need them all the time – so that’s why they sit around for 23 out of 24 hours every day,” he told BusinessCloud.
“Look at all the costs associated with car ownership: insurance, maintenance costs, MOT and tax – there are plenty of reasons not to own a car. In urban areas especially it will become increasingly unnecessary to do so.
“If you can get one car giving lifts to multiple people or one car being used by various people at different times, that is good news for the environment and for efficiency.
“We’re now seeing huge interest from the manufacturers. Daimler have invested a large amount in a [peer-to-peer car rental] business in the States call Turo while GM, Toyota and Volkswagen have all shown interest in this area as well.”
There is now a race among manufacturers to develop self-driving technology. The Government’s recent Budget paved the way for autonomous vehicles to be on Britain’s roads by 2021 via a series of regulatory reforms while Chancellor Philip Hammond also announced investment to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles.
“Some of the long-term estimates are for 90-95 per cent of all cars to disappear because of good utilisation of autonomous vehicles which drive people around and drop them off,” added Laughton.
“Autonomous vehicles are developing very quickly and lots of money is being spent to make them happen. Over the course of the next 15-20 years, we will also move towards everything being electrified because battery technology is moving faster than predicted.
“There’s going to be a lot more focus on getting vehicles shared because manufacturers will start to build things in which makes it easier to share those vehicles.”
easyCar club was trialled in London in 2013 and went national in 2014. The platform now has more than 100,000 members and more than 10,000 cars. Users are covered by an Admiral insurance policy when using the platform to rent someone’s car.
“People need to pick a car up at times when the standard rental depots are closed and from people who are typically within a mile of where they live,” Laughton said.
“They can walk there, pick up the car, drop it off when they’re finished then walk home again. It’s all about the convenience – most of our core easyCar rentals are at airports so it’s filling in additional business for us rather than taking away from other parts.
“It’s growing quickly but there’s a long way to go as there are 30 million cars on the road in the UK – and we would be hoping to get a meaningful chunk of those over a course of time.”