Though a purported decline in car ownership has been largely exaggerated, it could become a reality in the future, according to one transportation adviser.
Some urban planners have been making the claim that cars are parked 95% of the time. Trasportation adviser Paul Barter confirmed this theory using three different approaches - using surveys about the amount of time Americans drive, reports about distance and speed cars travel, and the number and length of car trips. Fortune writer David Morris notes if we had less cars taking up space in urban environments, there's opportunity for savings - and more housing.
Barter, like other urban planners, is most concerned with the strain that storing all those barely-used cars makes on cities. The shift away from mass car ownership, he says, would result in “huge parking space savings,” helping make cities denser, more efficient, and more liveable.
What Barter doesn’t point out is that not just the storage space, but the cars themselves, are being wasted under the current system. Sharing vehicles, either through existing services like Zipcar or Uber, or, eventually, through automated vehicles that could be summoned as needed, would lead to significantly lower overall spending on cars. That’s because while increased wear would of course give each car a shorter lifespan, a lot of vehicle wear, such as corrosion, actually takes place when a car is sitting still.