Traditional vehicle purchasing may experience some significant changes during the next several years and throughout this next decade. In fact, major automotive OEMs are betting on it. As companies like Uber and Zip Car (ride sharing and vehicle sharing) services continually resonate with younger generations and environmentally conscience consumers, the landscape of vehicle ownership will also change. In lieu of an individual investing in the purchasing of a vehicle that may only be utilized a small percentage of the time, many prospective buyers are now turning toward ride and vehicle sharing and only pay for “when” the vehicle is used. Automotive OEMs have heard this message loud and clear. Obviously, if this type of trend continues, the OEM sales numbers could decrease and shift from primarily private ownership to a significant volume of corporate ownership. This is one reason why the OEMs are partnering with Autonomous vehicle systems suppliers to “hedge their bet” in the event that the ride and vehicle sharing trend growth continues to grow and expand at rates that increase the relevance to the transportation market.
GM has recently announced a partnership with Lyft to begin navigating the waters of Uber and Zip. The $500M GM investment in Lyft indicates that the automotive OEM is serious about expanding into the rental vehicle market but, more importantly, it indicates GM’s interest in moving deeply into the Autonomous vehicle space. Most companies that have considered or that are currently in the Autonomous vehicle space have targeted the use of battery electric vehicles as the primary platform, such as the GM Bolt. Lyft and GM believe that the Express Drive program will assist both companies implement technology infrastructure for fleets of self-driving in the future. However, the immediate focus of the Lyft Express Drive program is place more Lyft vehicles into service.
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