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Anyone think rental cars (and possibly firms: Hertz, Avis, etc) are the future?


Guest ajc
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I've been thinking about this a fair amount recently and although predictions ('especially ones about the future') are always difficult, I figure that if you combine the business models of Avis/Hertz with Zipcar (who Avis already own) with Google self-driving technology and finally with Netjets you get the future of mass transport systems in pretty much any major city (I admit much help has been offered here by many past and recent sci-fi movies).

 

Okay, that's clearly a prediction so pinches (or even large doses) of salt may be required but I think the economies of scale will end up crushing any competitors.

 

Basically, instead of buying a car you buy x amount of hours depending on your needs which you can easily add to via you smartphone app if you're running low.

The rental car company (say Avis/Hertz/some new start-up) operates more like Zipcar in the future where you can book a vehicle via your phone or online for a specific time, place and duration and then you get a message saying it'll be y amount of minutes and a car drives itself over to you and takes you where you're going.

Of course, you can stump up for the lux package or lux and speed package or whatever so like Netjets there are different rates but either way you get to where you're going based on your particular financial budget.

 

At the end of the day, all the cars drive back to the rental company yards where they get repaired and so on which is already what these businesses do anyway on a regular basis (ie. storage and maintenance) except with this system they can plan for maximum utility and not have a bunch of cars gathering dust because they'll all be on the roads.

 

Google says if they don't have self-driving technology on the road in 10 years then they're doing something wrong so clearly this thesis (if remotely correct) is way early but I do think that the low-cost service provider in this industry would make an absolute killing.

 

The losers I think are the auto insurers (less accidents) and auto manufacturers because more and more companies can make a vehicle these days and all that could end up happening is that Google licences the technology to Avis, Avis gets some developing nation manufacturer to build a generic car and what the user pays for ultimately is the luxury inside the vehicle and the office space or whatever as well as the speed with which it gets to them and drops them off, safety record, etc.

 

The winners are the rental companies and Google because Google sells this stuff to anyone and everyone while the rental/carshare company can charge people competitive per hour rates because they're using their vehicles for 20 hours per day instead of the 2 hours that one person/couple currently does.

 

Just some real genuine-novice back of the envelope stuff here - $10 000 dollars per car cost from budget manufacturer, $10 000 dollars per car for Google tech, $15 000 dollars per year electric charging and $5 000 dollars per year storage and maintenance. Even if cars could only be on the road for 15 hours per day because of charging that still comes out at 5475 hours of driving per year per car.

Say 4000 of those are passenger-carrying that works out at a cost to the rental company of 10 bucks an hour.

If they charge consumers 12.50 bucks an hour for going wherever they want, no maintenance, no gas, no parking costs, time to work while you drive or watch tv, transport for kids and grandparents and no stress/driving effort is that worth it?

 

$2.50 dollars times 4000 hours per year gives a profit of 10 000 dollars per car per year and in a city with say 1 million of these cars that's obviously 10 billion dollars net per city.

 

Comments? Suggestions? Any board members who've more expertise than me (ie. any) in these sectors who can come up with better rough cost/savings estimates?

 

(It's ridiculously early I know, but still interesting to consider I think and there's that whole thing about opportunity favoring the prepared mind and all...)

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Interesting post, I'm just going to throw a few things out there:

 

1) You might need to wait for a generation to die off, owning a car and independence is a fiercely held belief of the boomers.

2) I'm guessing you live in the city?  I live in the suburbs, my wife would go nuts if she had to plan to use a car, there are many days where on a whim she'll say to the kids "we're going to the library now!" and they hop in the car, maybe habits change, but it would suck to have to wait 30m for the car to drive from the lot.

3) Imagine if there was a traffic jam and you called for a car and instead of arriving in 30m it arrived in 2 hours, it could kill a business meeting or a wedding or whatever, a few incidents like this and people would buy cars.

4) It would be nice for a computer to drive on a long trip, I'm looking forward to this.  Hopefully I can program it to speed in certain empty states.

5) What about towing?  We have an RV, I know people with boats, rental companies don't let you tow with their vehicles, I guess I'd always need to own something?

 

I have this sense that you're accurate but early.  This is the type of post that seems so strange right now, but in 25 years will seem so forward looking.  I think you're probably right on the direction, but will end up being wrong on the details.  But if you're looking to invest the details don't matter as much as the trajectory.

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Interesting post, I'm just going to throw a few things out there:

 

1) You might need to wait for a generation to die off, owning a car and independence is a fiercely held belief of the boomers.

2) I'm guessing you live in the city?  I live in the suburbs, my wife would go nuts if she had to plan to use a car, there are many days where on a whim she'll say to the kids "we're going to the library now!" and they hop in the car, maybe habits change, but it would suck to have to wait 30m for the car to drive from the lot.

3) Imagine if there was a traffic jam and you called for a car and instead of arriving in 30m it arrived in 2 hours, it could kill a business meeting or a wedding or whatever, a few incidents like this and people would buy cars.

4) It would be nice for a computer to drive on a long trip, I'm looking forward to this.  Hopefully I can program it to speed in certain empty states.

5) What about towing?  We have an RV, I know people with boats, rental companies don't let you tow with their vehicles, I guess I'd always need to own something?

 

I have this sense that you're accurate but early.  This is the type of post that seems so strange right now, but in 25 years will seem so forward looking.  I think you're probably right on the direction, but will end up being wrong on the details.  But if you're looking to invest the details don't matter as much as the trajectory.

 

All good points. It's an interesting idea but if it happened its far in the future. I suspect too where one grew up will determine how appealing this is. For anyone who didn't grow up in a large urban area like NYC cars are all important and a fundamental part of personal freedom. There are many millions of people who love their cars and are not going to give them up so easily.

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I live in a city and, having owned a car for decades, I can't see myself not owning one. However, I can see myself owning a car and making use of a car sharing service like Zipcar or Car2go for short trips within the city limits while keeping my private vehicle for my occasional long trips out of town. I'm intrigued by the notion of self-driving cars but I don't see it as something that is necessary for car sharing to become more mainstream than it already is.

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Interesting idea.

 

I think the main source of the rental car oligopoly is just airport real estate. Not brand, scale, technology, business processes, etc.

 

If an automated car network can be efficiently distributed throughout the entire city, new entrants may appear and drive down profits. Especially if Google is providing the platform.

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I think this is why there is car leasing  :D

 

I think that for most people who don't live in the city leasing is a better option than trying to rent a car every other day. Leasing costs are fairly low with low interest rates. That is my guess. When interest rates rise then leasing cars will be more expensive, right? so perhaps short-term car rentals will be the way when prices rise to lease cars rise with interest rate increases?

 

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Interesting post, I'm just going to throw a few things out there:

 

1) You might need to wait for a generation to die off, owning a car and independence is a fiercely held belief of the boomers.

2) I'm guessing you live in the city?  I live in the suburbs, my wife would go nuts if she had to plan to use a car, there are many days where on a whim she'll say to the kids "we're going to the library now!" and they hop in the car, maybe habits change, but it would suck to have to wait 30m for the car to drive from the lot.

3) Imagine if there was a traffic jam and you called for a car and instead of arriving in 30m it arrived in 2 hours, it could kill a business meeting or a wedding or whatever, a few incidents like this and people would buy cars.

4) It would be nice for a computer to drive on a long trip, I'm looking forward to this.  Hopefully I can program it to speed in certain empty states.

5) What about towing?  We have an RV, I know people with boats, rental companies don't let you tow with their vehicles, I guess I'd always need to own something?

 

I have this sense that you're accurate but early.  This is the type of post that seems so strange right now, but in 25 years will seem so forward looking.  I think you're probably right on the direction, but will end up being wrong on the details.  But if you're looking to invest the details don't matter as much as the trajectory.

 

Thanks for the comments Nate.

 

1) You might need to wait for a generation to die off, owning a car and independence is a fiercely held belief of the boomers.

 

Point taken. I think with Zipcar this is already happening though, so yeah - way early, but for today's generation I'd say there are definite green shoots (with Google self-driving tech as well).

This is from CNBC *hangs head in shame* and it's about young Americans driving less from 2004 onwards and why - http://www.cnbc.com/id/100907911

I also think cost and convenience is key, if the economics make sense then to me it's much like the case of WalMart versus the corner store in many respects.

 

2) I'm guessing you live in the city?  I live in the suburbs, my wife would go nuts if she had to plan to use a car, there are many days where on a whim she'll say to the kids "we're going to the library now!" and they hop in the car, maybe habits change, but it would suck to have to wait 30m for the car to drive from the lot.

 

I see no viable option for fuddy-duddy 'burb dwellers such as yourself.

Joking aside though, that's fair enough, but as you mentioned at the end of your post the basic direction can be important too and so if rental companies have say 1 million cars each in 10 major urban city areas then that could still be a pretty profitable business.

Also, depending on how spread out homes are where you are you could still have mini-lots that act as satellite centers at various intervals outside of the major cities for commuters and such (so maybe it'd only be a 10 minute wait, how close is the nearest collection of shops, businesses to where you are?)

 

3) Imagine if there was a traffic jam and you called for a car and instead of arriving in 30m it arrived in 2 hours, it could kill a business meeting or a wedding or whatever, a few incidents like this and people would buy cars.

 

This is a challenge. Scale clearly matters because say a 100 000 self-driving fleet could potentially take 500 000 regular cars out of each city so there would be less congestion as a result and therefore quicker transport systems. Also, I think the cars would basically be constantly circulating and simply get directions via transmitters from a huge central server so that rush hours, etc could be anticipated and run like clockwork without individual drivers making poor decisions based on inefficient or invalid information.

They might have to make it something for Hollywood celebs though (think iPhone) to start with so that ordinary folks are prepared to wait for some silly amount of time if they were going to start small, on the other hand a big government grant could make the first wave into a meaningful number (think bike-sharing in NYC, bus networks, etc).

That's definitely a real interesting issue though.

 

4) It would be nice for a computer to drive on a long trip, I'm looking forward to this.  Hopefully I can program it to speed in certain empty states.

 

Ha. Sure, and your fine will be printed and waiting by the time you arrive home!

Seriously though, from what I've read faster speeds, fewer crashes and so on will be the norm. Google already has better safety stats than human drivers during all the testing its done and because you'd essentially have a massive cloud-based computer program handling all trips on the road at any one time it would presumably increase speeds to as high as possible so long as they don't go over some probabilistic crash-scenario threshold.

 

5) What about towing?  We have an RV, I know people with boats, rental companies don't let you tow with their vehicles, I guess I'd always need to own something?

 

RV companies, boat companies could potentially do the same. Why own one when you can have the latest model delivered to your door on the day you need it for x amount of days at a lesser cost?

If it breaks down, they just send another and you get right on it and continue your vacation while they deal with the hassle of getting the other one back to the yard.

 

Anyway, appreciate your thoughts but I agree with you that holding my breath on this investment opportunity probably isn't the best option (intriguing as this cross-over between technology and driving happens to be)...

 

   

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Interesting post, I'm just going to throw a few things out there:

 

1) You might need to wait for a generation to die off, owning a car and independence is a fiercely held belief of the boomers.

2) I'm guessing you live in the city?  I live in the suburbs, my wife would go nuts if she had to plan to use a car, there are many days where on a whim she'll say to the kids "we're going to the library now!" and they hop in the car, maybe habits change, but it would suck to have to wait 30m for the car to drive from the lot.

3) Imagine if there was a traffic jam and you called for a car and instead of arriving in 30m it arrived in 2 hours, it could kill a business meeting or a wedding or whatever, a few incidents like this and people would buy cars.

4) It would be nice for a computer to drive on a long trip, I'm looking forward to this.  Hopefully I can program it to speed in certain empty states.

5) What about towing?  We have an RV, I know people with boats, rental companies don't let you tow with their vehicles, I guess I'd always need to own something?

 

I have this sense that you're accurate but early.  This is the type of post that seems so strange right now, but in 25 years will seem so forward looking.  I think you're probably right on the direction, but will end up being wrong on the details.  But if you're looking to invest the details don't matter as much as the trajectory.

 

All good points. It's an interesting idea but if it happened its far in the future. I suspect too where one grew up will determine how appealing this is. For anyone who didn't grow up in a large urban area like NYC cars are all important and a fundamental part of personal freedom. There are many millions of people who love their cars and are not going to give them up so easily.

 

I think you're right that certain dinosaurs, erm... I mean people, won't ever give up their cars and as you correctly say they have the mindset that it is a part of their personal freedom (and outside of urban centers I'd say it's a reality, not just a mindset) but then again from a business point of view if you can get a million of today's teenagers to become Google self-driving Zipcar converts in 10 major cities then that might turn out to be a big enough market.

 

Also, in cities at least there are benefits for kids who want to travel somewhere safely or for old folks who can't drive anymore as well as for business people who might want a desk and computer screen to work at.

Maybe those things are something today's teenagers would be willing to pay a not unreasonable monthly fee for 10 years from now when Google says it'll already undoubtedly have this technology out in the marketplace (and their delivery record seems quite reliable historically).

Obviously, I don't know though...

 

However, it might also happen sooner than any of us figure just like tablets are doing real damage to PC's or how e-readers are taking over from physical books. Kids clearly tend to be far more adaptive to new technologies and so once it's out there driving around then I think what will matter most is convenience (ie. range and depth of coverage) and price while things like symbolic meaning end up taking a back seat (I'm here all week with the razor-sharp humor by the way).

 

I do think you're right though, regarding the fact that many milllions would rather die (that's probably an exaggeration, but it's not a million miles off) than give up their personal vehicle and for the sake of being conservative I have to agree that it could take many decades before this happens, but then again widespread passenger flight took off (again with the puns - I'm likely not doing myself any favors here) only 3 decades after WW2 so massive changes have happened in the transport industry before in relatively short periods of time and it's perhaps arguable that today the knowledge needed to implement industry-wide changes is far more ubiquitous and accessible, so maybe I just reckon it could happen a decade or two earlier than you're perhaps leaning towards. 

 

Anyway. Thanks for the perspective Kraven, I think without doubt it's reflective of the (vast) majority view today regarding private car ownership. 

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Two related observations.  Cars are becoming nicer than (in terms of features) than in the past.  So they are becoming more aesthetic and more reliable.  Even GM has blockbuster cars when they used make disposable cars.  I think the transportation convenience factor is hard to give up.  If you are in a city you can get used to it and even then there is a later train.  Some cities also have clustering points (where folks work, play or eat) where trains can be used effectively (NYC is an example) other do not (LA).  The other long term factor is will be people move to the clustering cities or not.  I think not because of the higher cost of living (especially with a family).  Just compare NYC to a place like Rochester, NY. 

 

Packer   

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Another point is that once scale is achieved, they will also be able to purchase energy in bulk for some additional favourable economics.

 

But I think Nate has it right: the idea of owning a car for independence (and a sign of a youth's entrance into adulthood, and all the other emotional ideas society has about car ownership) need to die a widespread death before this can ever achieve the scale needed to make it work.

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In the 50's I don't remember which communists state figure said something in the words: "It does not make sense to buy a car if a taxi fare is cheaper than the ownership". And the whole USSR car policy was based on that vision. What they failed to understand was that having a car met being independant.

 

BeerBaron

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Ajc - I have been thinking of the same outcome. Self driving cars should reduce traffic jams as these cars could be shared for people travelling to the same neighbourhoods and computer driven cars are more efficient in moving traffic than humans while causing fewer accidents.

 

This is a 2nd order effect that I have been thinking of:

 

Cars are currently the 2nd largest expense for an average household after housing. If you free up all that capital and it is either spent or invested back into the economy - it is interesting to imagine what impact it might have on our society.

 

Currently, you have a car that sits in your garage all night.

 

Then you drive lets say on average for 40 minutes to work.

 

The car again sits there for another 8 hours.

 

At this point you drive back and spend 40 mins in the car.

 

In the evening you may drive another 30 mins.

 

I consider this a massive waste of capital for the whole society which could be freed up for better uses. It could have a large positive impact on society.

 

The liability for cars will move from the drivers to manufacturers as it would be their technology that would be responsible for crashes. What happens to Geico, etc?

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I am taking into consideration that in many countries self driving cars may be mandated just like seat belts for safety reasons

- you don't have drink driving

- no 18 yr old with 4 other teens speeding and crashing, etc.

 

- how much money will trucking and bus companies save in costs.

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As a simple observation, we already have this model -- they're called taxis.  The difference is that our current taxi regime requires two full-time drivers.  So your argument is effectively that the cost advantage of replacing two full-time taxi drivers with Google navigation will be sufficient to entice the population to abandon personal car ownership?

 

While I love your thought process, I don't buy the conclusion.  In metropolitan areas, there is already plenty of incentive to use taxis over personal cars even with the cost of two full-time drivers per taxi (ie, $40k/year each).  But how many people actually respond to that existing economic incentive?  Only people who are seriously budget-constrained or people who just cannot get parking at a reasonable price....

 

 

SJ

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Keep in mind:

 

In the major grid-locked cities it makes no sense to own a car. Subways & cabs move you around the city far easier, you don't have to find parking, put up with the stress of driving, or bear the ownership & operational cost, etc. If you want to travel outside the city, you rent a car - when you need it - & often from a point outside the city. Young people, no kids, & both working in the city. Retired folks, moving into the city to be close to the action. Favourable demographics & concentrated in the richer cities.

 

It is not just convenience. For many years my spouse & I used to rent a car every weekend - picking it up Friday night & dropping it off Monday morning on the way to work. Every 3rd week was free, most times there were free automatic upgrades (frequent customer), insurance was covered by Visa, & the points generated from Visa & the rental company were enough to fly the two of us to Europe (return) for free - every 2 years. All our friends thought we were nuts, & we quite agreed with them - every time we went to the airport!

 

The market for the Zipcars of the world, & why Zipcar is now owned by car rental company.

 

SD

 

 

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@Packer, LC and beerbaron

 

Sure, and I think you all plus Nate and Kraven have it right that private car ownership (full, not fractional) is going nowhere anytime soon though I do wonder about whether this might be a system that could work for people earning below or near the national median annual salary as an alternative or complement to trains, taxi's and buses in densely-populated urban areas.

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Interesting idea.

 

I think the main source of the rental car oligopoly is just airport real estate. Not brand, scale, technology, business processes, etc.

 

If an automated car network can be efficiently distributed throughout the entire city, new entrants may appear and drive down profits. Especially if Google is providing the platform.

 

Agreed, they've got at least some scale already as you point out and together with Google and a great CEO I think it's not a completely impossible thing to achieve.

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I think this is why there is car leasing  :D

 

I think that for most people who don't live in the city leasing is a better option than trying to rent a car every other day. Leasing costs are fairly low with low interest rates. That is my guess. When interest rates rise then leasing cars will be more expensive, right? so perhaps short-term car rentals will be the way when prices rise to lease cars rise with interest rate increases?

 

I think this is why there is car leasing  :D

Nice!

 

Yeah, though maybe there's a shift down the line from the banks and auto-manufacturers making those profits to the banks, Google and rental companies getting rich while the auto-manufacturing industry gets more commoditized.

 

Not sure that auto insurers like GEICO do very well out of self-driving tech either, why would Google or someone else pay crazy money once driving becomes as safe as flying?

I don't see how that happens myself...

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@Packer, LC and beerbaron

 

Sure, and I think you all plus Nate and Kraven have it right that private car ownership (full, not fractional) is going nowhere anytime soon though I do wonder about whether this might be a system that could work for people earning below or near the national median annual salary as an alternative or complement to trains, taxi's and buses in densely-populated urban areas.

 

Here's something I've thought of, why not a hybrid system.  A containerized system where you drive your car to a train terminal, the car is loaded into some sort of crate thing and you ride in the train.  The trains would have to be very high speed and for long distances.  But I know I'd prefer to have my car on a trip verses renting a car.  The key to a system like this would be very quick load times and very quick travel times. 

 

The downfall of plane travel is the 45m drive to the airport, the 1.5 hours early I need to be and then the extra hour after I land to get my luggage and rent a car, sometimes longer if there are lines.  In all there's an extra 2.5 hours or so added to each plane trip.  New York is six hours from my house, if you take that 2.5 hours, plus the hour flight, then another 45m for transit from the airport into the city it's starting to get close in time.  If a train could travel across the state at 200mph and carry my car it would be much faster than air travel, and I would have my car at the end.

 

I've thought about this with busses as well.  Imagine a network of busses that get people from suburbs and drive to a hub, the bus drives straight onto a train and is secured in place.  Then the train drives off at a high speed.  While in transit passengers would switch to the bus that would take them to their final destination using a hub/spoke system.

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You didn't mention

http://www.getaround.com/

 

which I think already has as many or more 'available cars' than zipcar. It's a pretty ingenious model. 

 

http://www.getaround.com/about

http://www.getaround.com/tour

 

Thanks.

Also, I saw some app the other day where people send their grocery orders to some site and anyone who wants can take their car along and fulfil a couple of shopping lists, deliver them to your door and gets paid the cost plus a set fee on top.

 

I think crowd-sourcing stuff like this is becoming way more widespread and efficient with every year that passes.

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Vehicle Miles Driven: Population-Adjusted Fractionally Off the Post-Crisis Low

http://advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/DOT-Miles-Driven.php

 

"Young people aged 16 to 34 drove 23 percent fewer miles on average in 2009 than they did in 2001—a greater decline in driving than any other age group. The severe economic recession was likely responsible for some of the decline, but not all."

http://www.uspirg.org/reports/usp/new-direction

 

One-way car sharing

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/business/car-sharing-services-grow-and-expand-options.html?pagewanted=1&buffer_share=2b664&_r=0&pagewanted=all

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@Packer, LC and beerbaron

 

Sure, and I think you all plus Nate and Kraven have it right that private car ownership (full, not fractional) is going nowhere anytime soon though I do wonder about whether this might be a system that could work for people earning below or near the national median annual salary as an alternative or complement to trains, taxi's and buses in densely-populated urban areas.

 

Here's something I've thought of, why not a hybrid system.  A containerized system where you drive your car to a train terminal, the car is loaded into some sort of crate thing and you ride in the train.  The trains would have to be very high speed and for long distances.  But I know I'd prefer to have my car on a trip verses renting a car.  The key to a system like this would be very quick load times and very quick travel times. 

 

The downfall of plane travel is the 45m drive to the airport, the 1.5 hours early I need to be and then the extra hour after I land to get my luggage and rent a car, sometimes longer if there are lines.  In all there's an extra 2.5 hours or so added to each plane trip.  New York is six hours from my house, if you take that 2.5 hours, plus the hour flight, then another 45m for transit from the airport into the city it's starting to get close in time.  If a train could travel across the state at 200mph and carry my car it would be much faster than air travel, and I would have my car at the end.

 

I've thought about this with busses as well.  Imagine a network of busses that get people from suburbs and drive to a hub, the bus drives straight onto a train and is secured in place.  Then the train drives off at a high speed.  While in transit passengers would switch to the bus that would take them to their final destination using a hub/spoke system.

 

And I'm guessing, that'd also force airlines to make all their processes way smoother and more efficient otherwise they lose tons of business.

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The other thing to consider, and I think this is the future of transportation, is that there is no way to have an investing thesis based on this model today.  You can't know how it will look or what companies will be involved.  People outside the cities may own their own self-driving cars, as well as human controlled vehicles.  Maybe Hertz licenses tech from Google and buys from GM, or maybe those companies don't end up being involved at all.  Look 20 years into the future and it could be something no one would predict today. Maybe the 2 major car manufacturers are Tesla and Apple, and they not only have their own auto-drive systems, but they also rent cars by the minute which will pick you up in 3min or under anywhere in the US when you call it from your communications device, as well as manufacture cars, and sell cars direct to consumers who want to own them outright.  Who knows at this point.

 

Here were my thoughts on this from a little over two years ago in the google thread:

http://www.cornerofberkshireandfairfax.ca/forum/investment-ideas/goog-google/msg44185/?topicseen#msg44185

"Me too, but I think this has the potential to be a bigger idea than just selling driverless cars for personal use. I think of all the things Google is doing this has the potential to be the most game changing.  If, of course, they can pull it off.  The A.I. would have to be rock solid and just simply work.  Imagine if you could just send your 10yr old off to grandma's 60 miles away alone in the car?  This may even create other options which make the need for most private car ownership uneconomical in comparison for most people.  Imagine a subscription service for everyday vehicles and maybe even fractional ownership service "netcars" for luxury vehicles.  You would always use exactly the vehicle for the task.  If you are going out to dinner with the wife, push a few buttons on your smartphone and a car comes around the corner in a few minutes to pick you up and take you to the restaurant.  After the restaurant you call again and another car comes zipping by to take you home.  Going to the movies with your 3 kids and 6 of their friends you push a few buttons and a 10 passenger vehicle comes and gets you.  Go to the grocery store in a tiny vehicle, come home in one with a large cargo compartment.  Without the need of drivers order pizza you get a pin number a vehicle shows up in your driveway that is just a big box on wheels with a number of heated compartments.  You punch in your pin and one of the compartments pops open, you take out your order, close the compartment, and the vehicle zips off to either the next stop or back to the pizza place.  You need 15 sheets of plywood, you order it online and within 20 minutes a vehicle pulls up in your driveway or jobsite with the wood for you to unload, almost like ordering pizza. Would grocery delivery be cheaper and offered almost everywhere if there was no need to pay drivers? Almost instant delivery of all kinds of things would be more economical.

 

Think of the mobility issues the very young, very old, and the disabled have in our current society and how this would change their lives.  If this works and works well, you could see fewer cars on the road and a much more efficient transportation system where everyone gets to where they want to go cheaper and easier than now and everyone gets the things they need delivered to them whenever they want them.

 

This could change almost everything about how we live our daily lives."

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In the 50's I don't remember which communists state figure said something in the words: "It does not make sense to buy a car if a taxi fare is cheaper than the ownership". And the whole USSR car policy was based on that vision. What they failed to understand was that having a car met being independant.

 

BeerBaron

 

I agree with most of what you're saying, but the one contrasting point I'll make is that I think the saturation levels in terms of public and private transport are so high in some cities now that perhaps a far more efficient and vastly more affordable system does finally make sense even if it clearly didn't 60 years ago.

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