Will the Automobile be going the way of the Newspaper?

2015_Indy_500_Pace_Car_Chevrolet_Corvette_Z06_Jeff_Gordon001According to the most recent Lyft IPO a vision for the automotive industry is grim. Lyft transportation company filed IPO papers last week with a different kind of “vision.” The vision for the company, say co-owners Logan Green and John Zimmer is “dramatic.” They believe the world is at the beginning of a shift away from car ownership to Transportation.

Transportation will be thought of as “a service,” or “Taas" (transportation as a service). Lyft is at the forefront of massive societal change, they told investors. The reasons? Economically-burdened consumers. According to Lyft CEOs, U.S. households spent more on transportation than any other expenditure, other than housing. On a per household basis, the average annual spending on transportation costs is over $9500. A substantial majority spent on car ownership and operation.

Green and Zimmer argue that cars create “inequality.” The average cost of a new vehicle in the U.S., they note, has increased to over $33,000. Most American households cannot afford this, they contend. The Lyft folks estimate that over 300,000 Lyft riders have given up their personal cars because of companies like Lyft.

Which leads to-in their way of thinking-the demise of the once must-have automobile. And, most importantly, the Lyft folks want to help it die.

Some of the data shared by the Lyft CEO’s comes from SMMT, an industry body which tracks automobile data. Another argument holds that today’s cars last so long that if bad times happen, consumers can simply stop buying new vehicles and get along fine with their old ones!

I suppose.

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Have they considered, though, the importance the automobile has had on American society? Well, maybe not as much as it’s been for so long, but certainly there is something to be said about the argument that cars are us; they reflect our personality and make a huge statement about who we are.

Just ask anyone who is a staunch member of a car club, representing their ‘ride,’ and favorite vehicle. Corvette Club members, Miata Club members, Mustang club members. The list goes on. I once attended an owner rally for the Chrysler P.T. Cruiser. They hosted over 1,000 P.T. owners and devotees.

Lyft backed up their claim with current data, such as:

*Car sales in Britain declined 18.2 percent in January 2019; the eighth consecutive month of decline;
*Sales in Turkey declined 60 percent;
*Europe-wide sales are down around 6 percent;
*In the U.S., total car registrations have declined about 10 percent.

People just don’t want cars that much anymore, it’s argued. Uber and Lyft are reducing the need for new cars. Automobiles could be entering an historic decline.

Are automobiles, as we know them, headed for an end? To hear companies such as Lyft tell it, ‘yes,’ they may be another trend of the past. As we see it, the Lyft IPO is all about destroying car ownership, as we know it. After all, isn’t it the objective of any company to make money? Squash the competition. Make their product stand out and serve all, so that other older competitors disappear? Isn’t that Progress, after all?

I, for one, am not ready to turn in my keys. Lyft and Uber cannot provide the freedom one feels when coasting along in his/her own car. The independence. Nor can they replace a pride of ownership, a hobby, a sense of satisfaction and status in what a certain automobile brings.

I am not looking forward to autonomous cars. It’s so far in the future-if it happens at all-I hopefully won’t have to be concerned. First of all, smart roads will need to be constructed. Most states can’t even afford to fill their potholes. So, right now, I’m not worrying about it.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my automobiles. I’ll take them in any color. As long as it’s black.

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