I was hijacking a thread that talked about splitting up the US with a side discussion of autonomous vehicles. I thought it might be better to start a new thread for that. Here’s the last post from that discussion:
Well, every car I’ve ever had wore out from age, not from mileage. When the plastic parts start to disintegrate and vital stuff springs leaks, I get a new car. But that means that the car could have been used more before giving out, and it would have been cheaper for me if I’d shared it with other users. ymmv.
It was a mid priced honda civic. That’s the second-to-last car i got rid of, the last one was a lemon, and we finally gave up on it. It was an expensive car when we bought it. But cars age from both time and use. Older cars not only disintegrate, they don’t have the best features. Lots of people use comparatively more of the years of a car than the miles, even if they don’t keep it until it stops working.
I’m not trying to argue that no one will buy their own car, by the way. I think rich people - like you and me - will continue to pay extra to have a car that has only been vomited in by friends and family. But young people are already abandoning car ownership in large numbers due to ride-sharing (both the Uber model and the zipcar model) making it so much more convenient to get around without owning a car. I think autonomous vehicles will accelerate that trend.
Now… I don’t think Uber and Lyft really pay enough to buy a car just to use for them. That is, they rely on the drivers either undervaluing mileage on their cars, or, likely, being like me and not needing to drive enough just for themselves to “use up” a car based on miles before it’s “used up” based on time. A taxi company needs to fully pay for the car just on its own use. Any maybe that cost is more than the cost of human drivers. But i doubt it.
I think an awful lot of working class and upper middle class people will too. They’ll spend less than rich people do… buying either the rich people’s secondhand cars or less expensive new ones. But there are so many advantages of owning your own car that it is a luxury a lot of people will want even though it’s not the cheapest method of getting from point A to point B.
ETA: And I’ve always considered myself upper middle class, but I suppose it’s possible I’ve crossed the threshold into upper class at this point. We’re not 1%ers, but we’re certainly 5 %ers and maybe even more like 2 or 3 %ers. I’m not sure what the upper bound is on upper middle class.
That’s a gross oversimplification. You’ve got rear-facing seats for babies, front-facing seats with five-point harnesses for toddlers, booster seats with backs for the next age / size grouping and then backless boosters for the age grouping after that. All with straps and buckles that differ and must be adjusted to the kid’s size. All with different safety ratings and recall statuses.
My girlfriend who’s a pediatrician says that something like 90% of car seats are installed incorrectly. I know where I live the fire department will check your installation for free as they’d rather expend time on that than on resuscitating kids suffering trauma that wouldn’t have been that bad had their car seat been installed properly.
My brother tells me it costs as much to rent a car seat as it does to rent a car. (ie renting a car with a car seat doubles the cost vs just renting the car). While that’s fine for a one week a year vacation… it might not be fine for daily drives to daycare. And you really don’t know how clean or safe or old the rental car seat is.
If it’s old the plastic might be brittle and less safe. You’re not realistically going to check for recalls every time you go somewhere by car with a kid if that’s a frequent occurrence. And, while I gotta say that my niece’s car seat is hardly a model of cleanliness… at least they know that it’s HER cracker crumbs, HER snot, HER puke or pee stains that you can still see even though they washed the cover three times after the puke/pee happened. The ick factor goes up considerably when it’s crumbs/snot/stains of unknown origin.
Nah, for parents who are driving with their young kids on a regular basis, the convenience of having their own vehicle is going to remain tremendous.
Driverless taxis will help some two-car households become one-car households. They will help some one-car households become zero-car households.
But private car ownership is going to remain a thing.
And not just because of car seats, although that’s a biggie.
Right now my car contains a pair of sunglasses, a pair of workout pants that I bought a week ago and keep forgetting to bring in, an item I need to return to Costco whenever I’m next in the area, an audiobook, spare masks, spare phone chargers (including plug if I’m going to be inside and needing a charge), a book, my music folder from the choir that I sang in pre-Covid, my ACBL bidding convention card, stuff I need for a volunteer thing I do, a first-aid kit, jumper cables, bungee cords, and probably a dozen other things I’m forgetting that are more than I’d want in my purse but super handy to have in the car.
Yes, I could manage with a driverless taxi, but I’d be giving up a lot of convenience that I can afford to pay for, so I probably won’t ever do that.
No, those are not benefits of driverless taxis at all. Those are benefits of driverless vehicles. I could be drunk or take a nap or read a book in a driverless vehicle that I own just the same as you could do those things in a driverless vehicle that you rent.
The features of the car and the ownership of the car should not be conflated here.
So, what you are saying is that a taxi that came with the carseat installed (by sometime who does a lot of that and has liability for doing it wrong) is actually safer than your own car. I mean, maybe not YOUR car, but on average, safer.
I take your point about small children being filthy, though.
Fair point. And a lot of the cost of a driverless car will be software or infrastructure, so probably not a large unit price per sold vehicle.
One point to take into consideration is where legal liability will reside in the event of an accident in the driverless vehicle. At present, in states that allow this, strict liability resides with the owner of the vehicle.
So there are benefits to the taxi versions when performing those other driver-non-attentive actions.
Well unless the taxi owner is idiotic, the expense will be baked into the fare.
So then it’s a question of how such liability insurance is priced. To what extent will it take miles driven into account?
Currently P&C insurers mostly do a very poor job of taking miles driven into account. When my daily average miles driven dropped from around 40 to around 1 and my car moved from spending its days in an unsecured parking lot to a locked garage a couple blocks down the same street that was monitored 24/7 by on-site security personnel my insurance premium went UP significantly despite my actual risk to the insurer going DOWN even more significantly.
So I suppose I do need to allow for the possibility that insurers will screw up the rating for driverless vehicle insurance to the point that it has a material impact on the overall cost of owning vs renting.
I mean, it shouldn’t because the same risk is there either way, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t.
Really tough to do this when it tends to be “self-reported”. Telematics can mitigate this aspect, but what percent of an insurer’s book of business has its customers regularly* on telematics?
Also, was the change in your premium a result of mere coincidence? That is, the premium would’ve gone up anyway; it just happened that you renewed right at the point of COVID transition of the vehicle? Anyway, I have yet to see an insurer to reflect a “change” in your experience/status “immediately”. But then again, I’ve not used the web-based companies (think Lemonade and e-surance) or those “fly-by-night” outfits.
Last I checked, Progressive’s “Snapshot” was a collection program that lasted 3-6 months (?) and then no more collection was required for the Snapshot discount.