Out of all the sectors to have been disrupted by the rise of emerging technologies in the last 15 years, the automotive sector has been slow to keep up – which may surprise some. While true that advances in electric and hybrid vehicles have been substantial; that fuel efficiency has undoubtedly improved, as has the augmentation of on-board computer systems, the greatest disruption to the sector has come from outside of the traditional industry.
The proliferation of ride-hailing apps such as Uber or Lyft, hand-in-hand with house-sharing on AirBnB and the rise of the subscription economy, have each contributed to an attitudinal shift – disruption – to concepts of ownership among under-35s, especially regarding big ticket purchases like automobiles. On-demand access to an asset, rather than ownership, is growing increasingly common.
This shift in perception of ownership has contributed to the age of an average new car buyer, in both the US and UK, rising from around 44 a decade ago, to around 54 today. Further, in both the UK and US, there are far fewer new drivers on the road than a generation ago, though the latter has picked up slightly. Other factors are at play, such as millennials having less disposable income, and possessing a greater awareness and understanding of fossil fuels contributing to climate change.