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Private car ownership still has a future

Adel Murad
It is the fashion these days for car executives to focus on future trends such as car-sharing, car-hailing services and autonomous driving. Jeff Holden, Uber chief product officer, recently declared that “individual car ownership is something that will go away because it is very inefficient.”
That may be partly true. But for a clearer picture of what is likely to happen, it might be better to listen to the guru who predicted the rise of the compact SUV years before his competitors, went for electric cars instead of other alternatives and now has the “Leaf” all-electric car as a best-seller in the segment.
Carlos Ghosn, chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, confirmed that personal car ownership would continue to expand worldwide despite ride-sharing services. He said that people think that sharing is a substitute for ownership but it is not — it is an addition. He is pushing for more production and aims to challenge for a lead position in the industry.
Ghosn’s alliance is poised to sell 10.5 million vehicles this year, making it a contender to challenge Volkswagen and Toyota for the top sales spot for the first time. The alliance has forecast that deliveries would jump to at least 14 million vehicles in 2022. Ghosn forecasts that growth will come from China, India and other emerging markets.
Although car-sharing is more efficient, there is no substitute for car ownership. Some of the new services are now available in Europe and the US but they have not affected levels of car ownership. Common sense dictates that people aspire to own their private car, regardless of low usage and high costs.
This is also true in affluent markets such as the GCC, where people own several cars despite driving only one vehicle at a time.
People prefer ownership and privacy. They would not accept sharing other goods and services, so why would they accept sharing cars?
• Adel Murad is a senior motoring and business journalist, based in London.

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