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One in three people ready to ditch cars for apps

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One in three people say the ability to book a taxi or minicab through their smartphone is an alternative to owning a car, in a sign of the potential upheaval vehicle manufacturers are facing to their business models. Carmakers are grappling with the prospect of falling vehicle ownership in large cities, where parking costs and congestion make traditional ownership less attractive than in rural areas. Ride-sharing and on-demand taxi apps were considered a viable alternative to ownership by 34 per cent of people, up from 29 per cent a year earlier, in a global Capgemini survey of 8,000 people in eight countries. The annual consumer survey, which polled 1,000 consumers in the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, India, China and Brazil, also showed the percentage of people who would consider using an on-demand service had risen from 34 per cent to 50 per cent in the past two years. “There is now a huge interest in this,” said Nick Gill, senior automotive analyst at Capgemini. “In the last year it has really taken off.” This is a trend that is likely to continue, with two-thirds of the world’s population set to live in cities by 2050.

Several carmakers have responded by investing in ride-booking services, such as Uber or Lyft, while some, from BMW to Ford, have launched their own car sharing schemes in city centres. The launch of shared riding options, such as Uber’s Pool or Gett’s GettTogether service, has increased the scope of on-demand services. Ford and VW are also launching inner-city minibus services. Mr Gill forecast that the shift from car ownership to shared ownership or on-demand services is “closer than we think”, as city authorities bring in measures to disincentivise personal car use and ease congestion. He said within five years there may be “strong legislation or pushes, fiscal incentives to not drive cars, and the inner-city areas reserved just for mobility services”. The survey showed a spread in attitudes towards transport services between developed nations and emerging markets. While 80 per cent of respondents in China said they were likely or very likely to use “mobility on demand” services, the figure was 39 per cent in the US, 29 per cent in Germany and just 18 per cent in the UK. Mr Gill said the numbers in China were “very scary” for carmakers.

Didi, the Chinese rival to Uber, carries out almost 20m rides daily, or 7bn a year. But despite the growing use of ride-booking options in China, attachment to car ownership remains on a similar level with other international markets. In both mature markets and emerging markets, a third of consumers said they would consider app services as an alternative to car ownership. In one surprising finding, those aged over 50 were fractionally more likely to ditch their vehicles in favour of transport apps compared with those in the 35-49 bracket. Some 32 per cent of 35 to 49-year-olds would consider apps as an alternative to a car, while 34 per cent of over-50s would. Among those aged 18-34, the figure was 36 per cent.


9 Comments on "One in three people ready to ditch cars for apps"

  1. dave thompson on Tue, 16th May 2017 7:16 am 

    If one in three people are using an app for a ride in a car, that would translate into still having enough cars on the road at any given time to be at the ready to give that one third a ride. By my guesstimation that would mean at least as many if not more cars on the road to meet the demand.

  2. Cloggie on Tue, 16th May 2017 8:10 am 

    Reworked the “death spiral for cars” story, posted here yesterday, in a short post with “take-away” point:

  3. Sissyfuss on Tue, 16th May 2017 9:58 am 

    1 in 3 people also live in their parent’s basement.

  4. Hawkcreek on Tue, 16th May 2017 11:02 am 

    Betcha those surveys were done on people who primarily live in big cities (like most surveys). So that might translate to 1 in 10 for small towns or outer suburbs.
    So probably about 15 % might ditch their car for an app.
    I bet I couldn’t get an app to get me 60 miles into town, shop around, and get me home for 9 bucks (gas money).

  5. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 16th May 2017 12:57 pm 

    An App to turn your smart phone into a car?

    The 4 wheels sprout from the sides?

    There are limits how much you can cram into a phone.

  6. Ralph on Tue, 16th May 2017 3:24 pm 

    At present, worldwide, there is 1 car for 5 people. If in future 1 in 3 has a car, there will be more cars.

  7. OFT on Wed, 17th May 2017 8:28 am 

    The Rethink paper ( ), which gained a lot of press in the last few days, predicts a massive drop in actual numbers of cars on the road (247 million drops to 45 million in the US) as autonomous EVs essentially replace individual car ownership, and users move to a Transport as a Service (TAAS) model. And given that in the US some 85% of the population is categorised as living in cities & towns, the scope is not entirely far-fetched.

  8. Davy on Wed, 17th May 2017 11:59 am 

    There will be a big drop in car numbers but not because of technology. It will be because we can’t afford them as a civilization. Techno optimist are way off in the deep end of denial. This appears to be the case with civilizations as they approach their apex of overshoot. These lofty heights camouflages the awaiting precipitous descent. The end can come quickly with such deception.

  9. Cloggie on Wed, 17th May 2017 1:33 pm 

    There will be a big drop in car numbers but not because of technology. It will be because we can’t afford them as a civilization. Techno optimist are way off in the deep end of denial.

    Enter the self-driving car, reducing the per mile price with a factor of 4-10, depending on whether you no longer can afford your old clunker (4) or a brand new Mercedes (10). Decline sold as environmental progress.

    Travelling will become like putting the radio on, rather than going to the opera.

    It is like in the hilarious Dutch Telfort add, a low end mobile telecom provider:

    A once rich family needs to financially retreat bigly, but the pater familias tries to keep the spirits high, by reinterpreting everything to the positive, into the realm of the absurd.

    Telfort, the provider for the losers.

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