Uber and Lyft to turn the wheels on car ownership

Ride hailing apps will push car ownership to a subscription based model. (AFP pic)

TORONTO: Ride-hailing apps like those of Uber Technologies and Lyft Inc are expected to alter the state of car ownership towards subscription-based services and shared ownership, auto industry experts said at a conference on Wednesday.

At the annual Collision Conference, speakers said ride-hailing apps are also set to play a role in testing automation for safety.

“Your phone will be your car,” said Andre Haddad, CEO of Turo, a peer-to-peer car-sharing company that enables users to rent their cars out to others.

Haddad said that while car sales have never been higher globally, people are realising that owning a vehicle is increasingly becoming unaffordable due to car payments, insurance, and parking.

“Many more are realising they can share their car when they’re not using it or rent it out to recover the big costs of ownership,” he added.

Uber said it is the largest ride-hailing firm in the world with 91 million users globally and a 65% market share in North America.

Both Uber and Lyft went public this year but are trading well below their offer prices.

Haddad said that car ownership among young adults was on the decline, with fewer adults under the age of 25 purchasing cars.

At the same time, he said the demographics would stabilise and demand for cars for events like weekend trips or vacations would maintain their interest.

Scott Hempy, CEO of Filld, a mobile gas delivery service, said labour trends like working remotely or from home had contributed to the reduced interest in cars, and that ride-sharing would change the insurance industry to per mile charges, rather than a flat fee.

Ride-sharing fleets and taxis are expected to be the testing ground for automation, according to Zaki Fasihuddin, the CEO of Volvo Cars Technology. Fasihuddin said ride-sharing cars would be the first practical applications for autonomous vehicles, at the ultimate goal of reducing all fatalities.

“Give consumers the choice,” said Fasihuddin. “Ride-sharing is a viable option. Nowadays people take that for granted, and that’s a valid mode of transportation.