Why driverless cars won't take over America anytime soon


driverless car

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The equity research analysts at Citi think it's too soon to think about self-driving cars taking over America - and it's not because the technology isn't going to exist soon.


Rather, they think that most people aren't going to buy into the driverless car ecosystem - that magical world where no one owns a car and an efficient fleet of driverless vehicles just sit around waiting to be called on - because they actually like the convenience of owning their own transport.

Having a car sitting in the driveway means being able to go anywhere, anytime.

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The analysts write that "the average driver seems to like personal ownership over the alternatives, and the suburbs still dominate. 80% of people drive themselves to work alone. If people wanted more carpooling or mass transit, we could already make those choices, and we don't."

The underlying assumption is that people won't own driverless cars, but hire them out when they need them. The idea is that people can have transportation without having to own a car (or pay for a driver). But, as Citi points out, this plan doesn't work very well in the suburbs, where a huge chunk of the population chooses to live, despite better transportation alternatives being available in denser areas. There are already solutions to owning a car (sort of), but most people still choose to drive.


The question that this leaves open is: will people buy their own personal driverless cars?