Picture waking up, getting in the shower, dressing up, grabbing an amazing serving of breakfast (hey this is your imagination, have fun) and sitting quietly in your living room waiting for the vehicle you requested to take you to work. It arrives in less than 10 minutes, you open the door, type in your location, relax and focus on enjoying the trip. At your destination, since there is no driver, (wait what?!), you have the app charge the trip to your card.
Yep, that’s the life. Oh wait, one little thing-if dreams were horses, men would ride. That lifestyle is unaffordable.
Hold that thought- what if it’s not? Three words- electric, shared and automated.
That’s right, electric robo-taxis will be half as expensive per kilometre compared to owning your own car or taking a ride-hailing service.
Okay, clearly the idea of ‘shared mobility’ promoted by ride-hailing companies tried to craft the idea that ride-sharing is more affordable than car ownership. But the reality is patronizing this service is two to three times more expensive than using your own vehicle.
So, what’s the appeal here? How can this fantasy become a reality?
Researchers believe electric self-driving vehicles can be common place, especially in developed and emerging economies anytime between 2025 and 2030. Technology giants, ride-hailing firms as well as nearly every major automaker are already testing self-driving cars.
Why the enthusiasm?
Well, the conversion to self-driving cars will be exponential for a number of economic and social reasons. The market will transform because electric cars last longer with heavy use. More things could go wrong in a gasoline vehicle because it has about 2000 moving parts while there are just 20 moving parts in the powertrain of an electric vehicle. In much simpler terms, you’re less likely to get stuck on the road with your car bonnet raised up, when in an electric car.
Also, heat and vibration in gasoline vehicles make them degrade faster than their electric counterparts. Typically, an electric vehicle will last twice as long as a gasoline car and requires less maintenance.
Naturally, because the ‘robo’ aspect insinuates the taxis won’t have drivers, trips will be cheaper and free from human error. Companies can also choose to make money by selling advert space, creating mobile workspaces, or even investing in charging stations for electric vehicles.
Throw in the fact that electric cars will provide fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gas-guzzling fancy cars, and we are sure the tides will blow in their favor as soon as the technology is perfected. Gas stations will gradually start packing up, mechanics will close shop and driving yourself might just become less convenient.
So, our world in the near future is going to appear like a scene from a science fiction movie, but here’s a reality check, isn’t it always rocky for early adopters?
Robo-taxis could disrupt today’s shared mobility market if you consider how effective they would be to consumers patronizing the service. From a total cost of ownership perspective, it will be much cheaper to patronize an automated ride-hailing service than to own a car. The company bothers about maintenance costs, charging stations and regulations. If the car needs to be charged, the company simply sends another to you. There’s absolutely no need to run all over town searching for charging stations.
The growing consensus is that the growth of electric automated vehicles will be driven by economics. Since its adoption will bring a ton of benefits to the consumer, robo-taxis would most likely become mainstream in the near future.