The advent of new technology and its widespread implementation has implications that can never be entirely predicted. The fairly recent rapid rise of ride-hailing/sharing services serve as an excellent example of such. When Lyft and Uber first emerged on the market, there was much uncertainty regarding not only their future but also the future of industries they may or may not affect, like the automobile industry for instance. Aside from the massive legal complications inherent in their service, aside from their controversy with taxi cabs companies across the world, they could have been responsible for a massive impact on something as basic as whether or not people would keep purchasing cars. Well, now it’s a few years later, and although the future is by no means clear, it’s at least partly visible. What does it look like, you ask?
Apparently, according to automotive news at autonews.com, the apps should not have and are not having a significant impact on car sales. This is because that, although services like Uber are immensely popular in urban centers like Manhattan and Chicago, less densely populated areas like suburbs still rely on driving their own cars for transportation.
Ostensibly, it is not so clear why this means a negligible effect on the car industry, so let me elaborate. To start, urban dwellers typically only own one vehicle per household. The national average is 2 cars per household. So, cosmopolitan inhabitants are not the ones propping up the automobile industry; their suburban peers are. So, if they are not the prominent financial backing for the automobile industry in the first place, then a reduction in their spending has less of an impact.
It interesting to note that public transit rates have respectively surged along with ride-sharing services, so it would seem that these two industries actually complement each other, yet another unforeseen impact of the rise of ride-sharing applications. It would seem that consumers are actually using a combination of both ride-sharing services and public transit to reach their destination. What remains unexplained, however, is what these users were doing before ride-sharing services. In theory, one would think that they were using public transit for the majority of their transportation, thus a rise in Uber would mean a decline in public transit; but perhaps they were making better use of personal vehicles.
Regardless of the reason, it’s a good thing that public transit revenue and ride-sharing are on the up and up. It is even possible that as ride-hailing services increase, there will be even more positive macroeconomic trends that emerge. Only time will tell; but it nonetheless is an exciting trend to watch.