Car ownership could be on the decline as drivers look to car-sharing options

Monday 7th December 2015

Academics in the US believe vehicle ownership could be on the decline as drivers move away from purchasing vehicles and switch to options such as car-sharing and public transport.

This could have implications not only for the motor industry but also insurance, infrastructure, public transport, city planning, and new technologies.

The news could provide a welcome boost to the daily rental market according our group managing director, Mark Hughes.


Hughes attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Research and Development Conference in the US last week as a special guest of the Welsh Government and he believes we are seeing a switch in attitudes from the younger generation.

Hughes said: ‘What we are seeing is a transition with what’s known as the iPad generation. We used to strive to own our own vehicle but the iPad generation is time sensitive, they would rather use public transport and be able to use smart technology. Catching up with emails on a thirty-minute train commute is a more valuable use of time to them.

‘In times of need they will look to rental companies, hiring a vehicle as and when needed, in turn reducing the need to actually own a car.’

The issue was highlighted at the MIT Conference and the attitude of consumers is changing, rethinking the relationship they want to have with the car, according to Henry Birdseye Weil, senior lecturer of technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and strategic management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Henry Weil

Weil said: ‘Changes in social change, innovative business models, and new technologies is disrupting the mobility sector. Developments in mobility have implications that reach far beyond individual passengers and drivers.

‘This would have a significant impact on vehicle sales – higher utilisation, smaller fleets, faster replacement and reduced demand for personal auto insurance.

‘We could also see a shift in the mix of vehicle owners – more fleets, fewer individuals.’

Weil said that research at UC Berkeley has shown that each shared vehicle in North America reduces the need for nine to 13 personal cars.

He added: ‘This would impact on vehicle sales, more intense competition, increased cooperation in development projects and the consolidation of manufacturers, suppliers, and dealers.’

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