Most of us are familiar with Uber and Lyft. Both are internet based ride hailing services. Using a smartphone app, people can quickly and easily find an Uber or Lyft driver who is willing to come pick them up and take them wherever they need to go. All the billing is done online. You just climb in an go.
Fewer people are aware of carpooling services that share the same basic platform. Instead of one passenger and one driver, carpooling services allow multiple people all going to the same destination to use the same vehicle at the same time. Carpooling services such as UberPOOL are exploding.
In just two years, UberPOOL now accounts for 20% if all Uber rides. It operates in 36 cities around the world. More than 100 million trips have been completed using UberPOOL. The figure is 40% in the San Francisco market. UberPOOL services more than 100,000 riders a week in China. Since its inception in August of 2014, UberPOOL has saved 90 million miles compared to standard UberX service. Those miles not driven have saved 1.9 million gallons of gasoline.
According to Wired, the number of urban commuters who want to use a private automobile to get back and forth to work is declining steadily. That has gotten the attention of automakers. The next step in the process will eliminate human drivers and substitute self driving cars.
General Motors has just completed the purchase of San Francisco start-up Cruise Automation for $1 billion. It has also invested $500,000,000 in Lyft. Apple has recently put $1 billion into Chinese company Didi. Just yesterday, Toyota announced that it is poised to purchase two robotics divisions from Alphabet, the parent company of Google. It says the deal is designed to “help create ever better cars and to advance our R&D efforts,” according to Reuters.
Volkswagen us spending $300 million on Israeli ride sharing service Gett reports German business news site Deutsche Welle. VW CEO Matthias Müller said ride sharing systems have promising growth rates, making VW’s investment in Gett “of strategic importance.” Volkswagen intends to turn the ride sharing business into a new corporate profit center. That will take the company away from its traditional business model of producing and selling automobiles.
Some wonder what the great rush toward autonomous driving cars is all about. In part, it represents a recognition by traditional car companies that their business model is undergoing tremendous changes. They see their market shifting away from individual car ownership to a sharing economy model. Rather than catering to individual customers, they will have to build the vehicles that enable the electronic ride sharing and car pooling of the future.
Source: Wired Image credit: UberPOOL