Has the Future of Car Ownership Finally Arrived?
And has it arrived in Europe? Automologist MAC tells the future.
Across Europe, car manufacturers have been struggling to maintain vehicles sales. With a double whammy of Brexit (which we have steadfastly refused to write about) and the near-apocalyptic downturn in China’s car sales, all brands are suffering.
So, very much in the spirit of trying to get a driver behind the wheel of one of its vehicles, the venture capital fund owned by Jaguar Land Rover, InMotion Ventures, has created its very own rental scheme for the carmaker’s vehicles.
Utilising a smartphone app, users can call up a car that will be delivered to their front door, or rear one for that matter, anywhere in London. Initially, InMotion does not seem to be planning a very grand service and will only have 50 Land Rover Discovery Sports available. It does, though, have plans to add JLR’s other offerings to the service should the initial trial be successful.
According to InMotion’s Managing Director, Sebastian Peck, the service is to cater to the premium market (okay, so it is not going to be cheap), who have a specific car in mind so they can go to a wedding or festival in the sort of style that they would be accustomed to if they didn’t live in London (where car ownership is a challenge, I presume). So, why London and why a Disco Sports?
Notwithstanding the need to get its vehicles onto the road, the good inhabitants of London are a brand new urban demographic where there is no real financial nor emotional incentive to own a car. Big cities are short on parking spaces and long on good quality public transport systems, so owning a car just doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. Add the availability of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft and Grab, then having personal ownership of a car will soon become a thing that few of us will do.
Across the UK, about 20% of households do not own a car but the numbers for London stand at about 41%, so Land Rovers’ attempt at fractional ownership may well hit the right note for the capital’s car-lite population. JLR is not the only Europe-based company trying to persuade drivers to get behind the wheels of their cars. Volvo, Mercedes and Porsche have all been offering subscription services for those unwilling to pull the trigger and actually buy one of their vehicles outright.
Fractional ownership could be the biggest game changer in personal transportation since Henry Ford ‘invented’ the production line. And it would appear that it may have already begun even if the fanfare was a bit muted.