Driverless, shared electric cars way of the future - report

10:31 am on 5 May 2017

Motorists using shared, electric cars could save money equivalent to a 10 percent pay rise, a new report has found.

A plugged in electric car.

Quoting research in the US, the report said people would spend $3400 a year on shared cars, instead of $9000 a year on car ownership. Photo: 123RF

Allowing for tax, the gain would be closer to 13 percent.

The report also found life expectancy of vehicles could grow six fold, to 1.6 million kilometres of travel and that environmental standards would improve.

The report was written for an international study centre, RethinkX, by Tony Seba, a Stanford University academic and James Arbib, a London energy expert.

They expect these changes to be in place by 2030.

Their findings are a rare chink of light in a generally gloomy environmental outlook.

The report was highly critical of the current system of individual car ownership.

It said cars were a huge, fast devaluing investment, which sat unused in car parks for most of the time.

The vast cost savings from shared, electric cars would eventually trump car-owner pride, and impel customers towards driverless cars, cruising their neighbourhood, accessible via an app on their phone.

Travelling this way would cheaper and more flexible than using using existing public transport such as buses or trains.

It would also be far cheaper than individual ownership.

Quoting research in the US, it said people would spend $3400 a year on shared cars, instead of $9000 a year on car ownership.

It expected the US experience to be reflected in other countries.

The report also said demand for new vehicles would plummet, but more people would actually travel further.

Motoring organisations in New Zealand have some sympathy for these views.

David Crawford of the Motor Industry Association said these these trends were already happening in New Zealand, with so-called Generation Y less interested in car ownership than their parents were.

But car ownership would continue to attract some people.

"Given our geography and our tendency to travel a lot, take holidays and tow the boat, (owning cars) will still happen," he said.

"But we know that the nature of the vehicle will change in the way it is constructed and the way it is operated."

Mark Stockdale of the Automobile Association also forsaw difficulties in this country.

"Will we see the likes of Google and others mapping out every inch of the New Zealand road network so often that you could have an autonomous vehicle driving down them?" he asked.

"For that reason we do not see the demise of human driven cars any time soon."

Meanwhile, the report also said the world's appetite for oil, which was forecast to peak at 100 million barrels per day by 2020, would drop to 70m barrels per day by 2030.

This would cause the price of oil to halve from current levels, making many oil wells uneconomic.

This would damage shale producers in the United States and conventional oil companies in the UK, Norway, Nigeria, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, Angola and Canada.

But there would be a long term economic benefit from higher productivity, as people got to work more quickly and with less stress.

There would also be far less fossil fuel used in transport and lower greenhouse gas emissions.