Technology Might Kill The Idea Of Car Ownership — And That’s A Good Thing

The American dream used to mean a good job, house in the suburbs and two-car garage. But for kids born in the 21st century, a very different reality awaits: More people will live in big cities, vehicles will drive themselves and car-sharing, not car-ownership, will be the norm.

If everything goes according to plan, anyway.

A new report released Monday by the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment declares that transportation is at a tipping point. “Megacities” such as London, Shanghai and New York City are already glutted with automobiles, but car ownership could double worldwide by 2030 if something doesn’t change. And something has to change: Cars already contribute an enormous amount of pollution to our atmosphere, and that pollution is a factor in millions of early deaths every single year. Forget the American dream: Solving this problem is a global imperative.

Thankfully, we’re en route.

“If you already have congestion and pollution, that’s not going to get better if we continue to move in the same way,” Stefan Knupfer, a senior partner at McKinsey, told The Huffington Post in a recent interview. “The good thing is, a lot of new technology trends are coming in.”

Knupfer describes a basic problem: In the next couple of decades, many more people worldwide will enter the middle class, those people will want to buy cars and those cars will make cities more congested and polluted. In his mind, the solutions stem from four major pillars: car-sharing, autonomous driving, electrification and in-vehicle connectivity. Summed up, technology will make it less necessary to own a car because it’ll be easier to get hooked up with someone else’s ride (think Uber and Zipcar), and new vehicles will be “smarter” and less damaging to the environment.

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