Why many of us may have already bought our last car, according to the BBC

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It's an interesting article. The headline is clickbait though. The average time of car ownership is 6 or 7 years, while the article talks about events 20 years out.
 
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BBC, meet America.

We have cars because FREEDOM.

But more seriously, if transportation were driven (pun intended, thankyouverymuch) by logic we would still be using trolleys, only electrified, for most of our transportation needs.
 
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Sean Gorham

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America has so many cars because the people with money saw themselves getting more money from cars and the associated infrastructure, compared to public transport. Yay capitalism!
 

Cindy Claveau

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America has so many cars because the people with money saw themselves getting more money from cars and the associated infrastructure, compared to public transport. Yay capitalism!
To a degree, yes. But remember that the majority of the U.S. landmass is rural - out here where I live and in the surrounding towns, if you don't have a car you can't get to the grocery store or the doctor unless you call a neighbor to drive you. (To be more accurate, I actually live in a city but most of my family lives out there in the "boonies").
 

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America would need to rebuild to break its dependency on cars. I personally went car-less 5 years ago and love it, but I live in the city and can walk to bank/post-office/multiple grocery stores/dentist/restaurants and theaters.

I'm pretty certain the automotive industry leveraged city planners with the idea that car-accessible-only suburban neighborhoods (with no services within any kind of reasonable walking distance) was a 'great way to keep the poor riff-raff out of your safe/family-friendly neighborhoods". So we have vast sprawling areas where even relying on uber or lyft can be slow to respond and subject to 'surge pricing' when you need it most.

It may be an attractive alternative ine for people out of step with the daily 9-5 work cycle (students/retired/home-spouses) but terrible for anyone that's part of the regular commute.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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America has so many cars, because in its history the introduction/improvement of public transportation was massively lobbied against in many metropolitan areas, and gas is quite cheap compared to the rest of the Western world, making the TCO much lower. Since there's also much more space around for settling, compared to let's say the UK, wide and low density settlements were possible. The opposite would be NYC, where due to crowded space public transportation is a necessity, and therefore there.

Personally I don't think that self driving cars are a thing for in a long time, when the underlying technics/algorithms still can be fooled as easily as this:

Machine Learning Confronts the Elephant in the Room | Quanta Magazine

This is nothing I would trust my life to! Maybe on fixed routes, but not much more than this at the moment, when there are still problems like this around, and the research on how to fool neural nets is still in its infancy.
 
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Dillon Levenque

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I read that too, and I'm a little skeptical about that twenty year timeline even with their horse & buggy/automobile Fifth Avenue example pictures. It may very well happen along Fifth Avenue (and damn well should, assuming the electrical energy is available) but I can't see how such a transformation can happen in non-urban areas. I live in what's loosely called 'semi-rural' as in there are some small farms along the roads but most lots are single-family homes. Close (10-15 miles) to town. Not by any means what would be called "out in the country". Yet without motorized transport I'd be helpless. The nearest grocery store is five miles away over hilly terrain on roads with no sidewalks and in many cases no shoulders. I need wheels.

Maybe I'll move to one of those gigantic city-in-a-building places that were so common in the science fiction of my youth.
 

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To a degree, yes. But remember that the majority of the U.S. landmass is rural - out here where I live and in the surrounding towns, if you don't have a car you can't get to the grocery store or the doctor unless you call a neighbor to drive you. (To be more accurate, I actually live in a city but most of my family lives out there in the "boonies").
Likewise for large parts of Australia and New Zealand. I'm seeing more recharging stations each year but the driverless aspect will take much longer given the nature of many of our rural roads. North or south, it's a three hour drive to the nearest large city.
 
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I'm guessing you are scoffing in disbelief at the very suggestion of this article, but bear with me.
I already moved on.
 

Zaida Gearbox

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We would have to do so much rebuilding/improving of mass transit to break our reliance on cars. Without traffic, I live not quite an hour from Philadelphia. Big City - should be public transit right? Well, there is - sort of. But, for instance - I could not get from my house to my old office using public transit - unless I wanted to go all the way into Philadelphia, switch trains, and take the train back out to where my office was - and then I'd still have to get a cab or an Uber to the office - and that craziness would take every minute of 4 hours. So, it's not feasible.

When I was in Virginia, I was able to get around town by bicycle, but any time I had to or wanted to go outside of city limits I had to drive.
 

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Yeah, back when the highways were built in order to facilitate the move to suburbs, they destroyed parts of major cities and tore up the old trolley lines. It will be difficult to come back from that given the current anti-tax/anti-public transportation atmosphere.

Cindy is right, too. There are parts of this country that aren't that viable for public transport, though at one time every little backwater had train service. Trolley service wasn't near as extensive, but it did still serve some out-of-the-way locations. I've seen maps of our old trolley service here in my city and it was surprisingly extensive and far-flung. Europe is in a great position because much of that infrastructure still remains in place and in working condition, imo.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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The article was written primarily with the UK in mind, remember. Certainly if you live in inner London (as opposed to the suburbs), and I suspect in most other big cities in the UK, it doesn't really make much sense to own a car -- I haven't for years -- that costs a small fortune to insure, garage and to park and which spends most of its time simply sitting idle and depreciating in value. It makes much more sense for me to take taxis everywhere (unless the tube or public transport is more convenient) and to hire a car when I need one.

Supermarket shops I do online anyway (and a lot more of my shopping) and I can easily supplement that with plenty of stores in walking distance.

If, as he suggests, self-driving electric cars come widely available and the cost of journeys falls dramatically, that simply makes ditching your car more attractive.

Something that really brought this home to me was, about 30 years ago now, a friend finally managed to settle his late father's not inconsiderable estate and marked this by buying the Jaguar car he'd always wanted. This he celebrated by taking me and several others out to dinner, and I was one of the lucky ones who got a ride in the Jag.

Anyway, he spent longer driving round London's Chinatown looking for somewhere to park than he'd spent getting there from his flat in one of the outer boroughs, then he couldn't drink during dinner because he was driving, and when we left the restaurant he found the parking fee was more than his dinner had cost.

That really decided me that a car in central London isn't a good idea.
 

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I only got a driver's license when I moved out of Portland to go to grad school in Lubbock. In Portland, there was a bus outside my door every 7 minutes during the day, and parking made cars impracticable in the center of the city. But in Texas, the public transit ran hourly during peak times and it cdidn't really go anywhere useful.
 

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The article was written primarily with the UK in mind, remember.
No matter where you are, driverless tech will still be the same. Sorry, but it's not as close to prime-time as some people are trying to make you think it is.

Go for a ride in a driverless taxi in the rain sometime. You have a lot of that over in London, right? Rain?
 

Ashiri

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The article was written primarily with the UK in mind, remember. Certainly if you live in inner London (as opposed to the suburbs), and I suspect in most other big cities in the UK, it doesn't really make much sense to own a car -- I haven't for years -- that costs a small fortune to insure, garage and to park and which spends most of its time simply sitting idle and depreciating in value. It makes much more sense for me to take taxis everywhere (unless the tube or public transport is more convenient) and to hire a car when I need one.
When I lived in Auckland I used public transport a lot. It had some deficiencies regarding timetabling, but on the whole I could get anywhere within the metropolitan area very easily. Living in a small provincial town is a very different story.

Public transport and driverless cars are/will be a good option for at least half of NZ's population. The rest of us will need cars a bit longer.

BTW, how well do driverless cars handle country lanes?
 

danielravennest

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Personally I don't think that self driving cars are a thing for in a long time, when the underlying technics/algorithms still can be fooled as easily as this:

Machine Learning Confronts the Elephant in the Room | Quanta Magazine

This is nothing I would trust my life to! Maybe on fixed routes, but not much more than this at the moment, when there are still problems like this around, and the research on how to fool neural nets is still in its infancy.
Not fully self-driving, but for example I live at a 56 home subdivision with one outlet to the main road. The rest is all cul-de-sacs and a winding street. A car could easily be trained to navigate the subdivision, and be summonable to any house when called. Then it is driven normally to wherever the person wants to go, and they pay a rental fee through their phone app. This would reduce the need for multiple cars per household. If the car were electric, it could have a dedicated charging station when not being used.
 

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People keep on saying this. Cars as a service will be better and cheaper than cars as a product. Cars sit sidle for 90% of the time so you don't need to own one (well, so does my bathroom but I still want to have one, or two)

I don't buy it.

For one thing it takes a very limited view of how a car is used - as A to B transport of a person.

But cars aren't exclusively used that way. I've moved house using mine, taken it to car boot sales, slept in it over night, driven it down to the beach and used it as a temporary beach hut or up into the hills just for the view and taking pictures.

You can argue that there are other ways of achieving these things - removals companies for example. But my car, (costing £3000) was only just twice the price of a removals firm doing the house move for me (£1500 cheapest quote, some quotes came close to the whole price of the car)

As for it being electric cars - well first they need massive investment and expansion of the recharging infrastructure. Where I am right now the closest fast charging station is about 30 miles away.

I'm also tempted to take 'software as a service' as an object lesson, watching how the 'service' version of software has grown to be vastly more expensive than some usage models of software as a product.
 

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To a degree, yes. But remember that the majority of the U.S. landmass is rural - out here where I live and in the surrounding towns, if you don't have a car you can't get to the grocery store or the doctor unless you call a neighbor to drive you. (To be more accurate, I actually live in a city but most of my family lives out there in the "boonies").
Same here. My spouse and I live in DC but when we visit relatives in New England we have to get rides everywhere from relatives. Neither of us drive.