Lyft President: In 10 Years No One Will Own A Car In A City

Left: [Getty Images - ODD ANDERSEN - 105953384] Right: [John Sciulli/Getty Images for Lyft]

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Private car ownership in major U.S. cities will no longer exist in less than a decade because of driverless car technology, according to Lyft president and co-founder John Zimmer.

Uber, the ride-sharing big brother to Lyft, launched self-driving cars in Pittsburgh just last week. Now Lyft plans on doing the same thing, even upping the ante by having autonomous vehicles “account for the majority of Lyft rides within 5 years.”

Zimmer seemingly wants to show the world that Uber isn’t the only innovative ride-hailing company.

“Last January, Lyft announced a partnership with General Motors to launch an on-demand network of autonomous vehicles,” Zimmer explains in a published outline of his ambitious plans. “If you live in San Francisco or Phoenix, you may have seen these cars on the road, and within five years a fully autonomous fleet of cars will provide the majority of Lyft rides across the country.”

Zimmer also described a “Third Transportation Revolution” in which no one will feel compelled “to own a product to enjoy its benefits.” The world has already experienced this concept through Netflix and other streaming services, which essentially rendered DVD ownership antiquated. Same goes for Spotify and its affect on CDS and MP3’s.

“What began as a way to unlock unused cars, create economic opportunities and reduce the cost of transportation, has today become the way millions of Americans get around,” Zimmer wrote, stressing the fact that novel ideas often became an entrenched aspect of society.

His overarching argument is that this same trend will continue for an amalgamation of autonomous cars and ride-sharing services; a pair he believes to be so natural, that it is coming faster than people think (if its not considered to already be here).

Even though video games like Grand Theft Auto are allowing such technology to become a reality at a faster rate, many experts believe that unease (whether unfounded or not) will likely constrain and delay the implementation of autonomous functionality for vehicles.

“Concerns over privacy and data collection are among the leading tech-policy issues of the day, and they have already begun bleeding into the debate over intelligent-car systems,” Adam Thierer and Ryan Hagemann co-wrote in a published paper called “Removing Roadblocks To Intelligent Vehicles And Driverless Cars.”

There are a number of potential advantages of self-driving cars, including increasing convenience.

“Despite these benefits, plenty of critics are already worried about the societal implications of autonomous vehicles. Security and liability concerns tend to dominate. Conflicting state and local laws and liability standards could also limit the growth of these technologies,” Thierer writes in his book “Permissionless Innovation.”

Legislation has even be introduced to deter the progress of the autonomous technology. But Zimmer, with his entrepreneurial spirit, is setting the bar high and is insistent that he will have more than half of Lyft’s cars be driverless.

What that means for the inherent business structure, which currently utilizes quasi-employees to operate the individual vehicles, will be known as time goes on and Lyft tries to further modernize.

“I don’t have all the answers, but what I do know is that decisive action must be taken by all of us — business leaders, policymakers, city planners, and citizens — to realize the full potential of this almost unprecedented moment in history,” Zimmer stressed.

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Eric Lieberman