The slide “How Do People Get to Work” shows how people get to work in America.
77% of all people drive by themselves, a little under 11% carpool, a little under 5% take public transportation, and so on.1 If you isolate just the drivers from this graph and combine it with all driving rather than limiting it just to commuting, this is roughly what you get.
About 75% of all driving is done solo. This single statistic, in conjunction with autonomous vehicle technology, is going to be responsible for completely transforming our society and our entire automobile manufacturing base in the next two decades.
This is how people are using their cars in America. Let’s see how this usage compares to what vehicles consumer are purchasing.
This pie chart, “What Vehicles are People Buying?” shows what Americans are currently buying. We’re purchasing about 50% sedans and coupes, 30% SUVs, some other even larger vehicles like pickup trucks and vans2 and just 2.4 % motorcycles.3 Excluding the motorcycle, these are mostly all large five passenger vehicles, but we’re driving alone 75% of the time so everyone’s buying vehicles that are 500% overbuilt for how they spend most of their time using their cars. Consumers do this because cars are expensive and as long as people are spending a substantial proportion of their annual income on a vehicle, that vehicle has to do everything for them. But remember, consumers are going to start using vehicles on demand through The Mobility Cloud, which is very different from our current automobile usage. Under our current ownership model, when a consumer chooses a car to buy or lease, they choose it, and then they’re stuck with it for the next 2 to 5 years. That’s why everyone’s buying huge 4000-5000 lb, 5-passenger vehicles. The average consumer might only make a car purchase or lease choice ten to twenty times in their entire life. In a world of on demand autonomous vehicles, however, a consumer might make that decision half a dozen times a day. A commuter would choose a new car twice a day instead of twice a decade. The impact of this is that the consequences of a consumer’s automotive choice is trivial. With The Mobility Cloud, a consumer isn’t stuck with their car choice for years anymore. They’re stuck with their car choice for twenty minutes until they get to their destination and release the car. Because of this, people will start choosing vehicles that are more appropriately suited to what they’re doing with the car right then at that moment. And as we learned, 75% of what consumers are doing is driving alone.
All this solo driving that consumers are engaging in? In time, it will all be done in vehicles that are specifically designed for solo driving. People will still want to use conventional, full size cars to go on dates or take the family out to dinner or take clients out to lunch. But I’m not concerned with that part of the usage spectrum. I’m only talking about changes occurring to the portion of the usage spectrum where people are driving alone, which is the majority of usage. This is the second of the four most important ideas to take away from this presentation.
Once you can order any car specifically for what you need it to do, on a day by day, or indeed, even an hour by hour basis, vehicle architecture will then directly reflect the way vehicles are actually used in America instead of the current situation where vehicle architecture reflects the almost never used maximum occupancy case.
This point is another of the four most important concepts to take away from this website and it is the key to understanding one of the most important and underappreciated ways autonomous vehicles are going to change consumer choice, and consequently automobile manufacturing. The next section will explain how this change in consumer choice is going to create the greatest disruption in the history of transportation.