Choosing which car to buy is more than just looking at that sticker and assessing the options. It’s a combination of figuring out what you need, what you want, and what simply speaks to you in a way that will have you turning over a large sum of cash to own the perfect car. According to some analysts, that whole process is about to change and the days of actually owning a car may be numbered.
Here’s the idea. Right now, a large part of what makes us purchase a car is instinctual. There are things that we know it must have like good fuel economy or a third row seat or the ability to tow, but what actually makes us pull the trigger isn’t so easily defined. It’s the whole reason there are so many cars out there in the first place.
While one person may see the Ford Mustang as the ultimate muscle car, another sings the praises of the Dodge Challenger. They’re similar, yet different, and it’s hard to pinpoint what makes a person a Mustang guy versus a Challenger guy, but a lot of it comes down to how it feels to sit behind the wheel and drive.
Enter the autonomous vehicle and the whole equation changes. There is no sitting behind the wheel and driving. There is just sitting behind the wheel and waiting for the car to take you wherever it is that you want to go. The car becomes less personal and more utilitarian, making owning one less attractive and interesting. Renting a vehicle by the hour so you only pay for what you need begins to make some sense and companies that do this are already popping up in urban areas.
Autonomous vehicles completely remove the driving experience, that visceral connection with the road that makes us fall in love with a certain car. It turns cars into a large appliances with wheels. A stove is cool, cooks dinner, and is handy for baking cookies, but most of us aren’t particularly attached to our stoves.
Once the driving experience ceases to exist, the thrill of owning that special car could disappear, too.