Will we be driving in the future?

29 January 2019

Interview with 

Richard Black, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit; Darren Capes, IET

DRIVING

Driving a car

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Are the days of car ownership - and car driving full stop - numbered? Chris Smith spoke with Richard Black from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, and Darren Capes from the Institution of Engineering and Technology...

Richard - I would have thought that cars will be around for a while but I'm not sure they'll be around in such amounts as they are now particularly not in cities. I think there's a generational thing here. I've got two children in their early 20s. Only one of them learned to drive. Neither actually drives, most of the friends don't want to drive.

Chris - Someone said to me the other day “my daughter - I'm not going to bother to urge her to get driving lessons because she'll never need to drive”.

Richard - That's right. I don't have a car I belong to a car share scheme. I used it once in a blue moon. It's so much easier than owning a car.

Chris - Darren?

Darren  - Yeah I think that's right. I think there's a lot of interest now in what we call mobility as a service. You basically use the car when you need it and you maybe don't own it. And this is kind of what car sharing is and I think as technology grows that will just get more complex and we may well see the point which the car turns up it takes you for the journey you want, you get out and it goes off and it fulfills somebody else's journey.

Chris - I mean notwithstanding what we were saying earlier about the idea of your lending your car battery to the national grid to help that topped up, I must admit I do feel a significant pang of guilt when I'm sitting in the traffic jam in my car with my one passenger, me, in it and there's this enormous jam with - I don't know how many -  hundreds of cars that look identical, having a car share scheme where cars arrive, pick you up, take you may want to go, would give you all the convenience and none of the disadvantages, wouldn't it?

Darren - I think it's also worth remembering that cars may get a lot more expensive as they get more technology onboard. You can't imagine something like EasyJet buying a very high tech very expensive aeroplane and only using it 5 percent of the time which is kind of what we do with cars. So in the future it may be that to get the benefits from the technology, cars will become more expensive and they will make more sense as a shared proposition.

Chris - Richard?

Richard - Yeah I think it's that fact that you mentioned earlier Chris that does make a nonsense of the way we do things now as you said cars are expensive and we leave them on the driveway. So why not share them?

One key thing here about autonomous cars is safety. We've already heard these stories from the States for example where you know cars that are being driven in autonomous mode having collided with pedestrians and you don't need that to happen too often before politicians, not to mention people, become very very scared of that.

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