The future of car ownership

By: John Fraser

Many years ago when politicians were admired and the earth was flat, barbers would ask their male customers if they wanted “anything for the weekend”?  A discreet way of checking whether they needed a pack of condoms.

Toyota, whose products have even more safety features than most condoms, has also been thinking how to make the weekends different, special, fun.

At a seminar this week on the State of the Motor Industry, Toyota’s financial services head Marius Burger looked ahead to a time when people won’t own a car but will have the use of several.

As well as financing plans which cover the use of a car, to be returned or paid-off at the end of a servicing period, he is looking at an even more flexible product.

“People will pay for a transport solution rather than a vehicle,” he suggested.  “We may offer a platform with more than one vehicle.”

It appears to work through the driver buying a number of points each month and being able to trade them for the use of a choice of different vehicles, as required.

You could opt for a runaround for the week and a 4×4 for the bush for the weekend.

You could hire something sexy and sleek to take the mistress out for dinner, and something more modest to drive the wife to the shops.

There would, of course, have to be all sorts of infrastructure for the pick-up and drop-off of vehicles, but that is not beyond the wit of man. Or woman.  Not too dissimilar schemes with bikes in London already run effectively.

Over half of people who want to purchase a car have their financing application rejected, which is one reason why Toyota, with presumably all the other auto firms, is looking at ways to open the market for more people. Burger believes there are huge opportunities to grow the market through these sort of innovative products which look at use, not ownership.

And just imagine the disruptive effects – and the new opportunities for Uber, for the car hire firms…..

For a long time, there have been businesses which can hire you a TV, a computer, a companion, for an hour, a day, a week…..  Why not have permanent, yet temporary use of a car?

You may never own a car again.  But, then, you won’t need to.

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