Despite accelerating progress towards fully autonomous cars and trucks, many people still do not accept the obvious fact it’s going to happen soon.

For example, in response to Death Spiral for Car Ownership? End of Fuel-Powered Cars by 2024? one reader suggested it will not happen because of capitalism.

Failure to Understand Capitalism

People who believe in this utopia do not understand capitalism. We own cars because consumers chose what they wanted and backed that up with their hard earned cash.

It is already far cheaper to ride the bus or carpool. Few choose that because sharing has its downsides. Fleets of driverless cars are really just a more modular bus service. Some will use this, but most will prefer ownership.

As Backwards

The above line of thinking is ass backwards.

Capitalism is precisely why driverless is coming. Corporations are betting their money and resources. The government is not resisting. The trucking industry will save hundreds of millions of dollars. People who believe driverless is not coming are the ones who do not understand capitalism!

Fully autonomous vehicles are not some pie in the sky prediction by Al Gore. Real companies (hundreds of them) all working on driverless. A bet against them is a foolish bet against capitalism.

Comparing current carpooling with what’s going to happen is like comparing ancient stone huts to modern houses. Carpooling requires a number of people to get together, on the same route, for rides at the same time every day.

On-demand scheduling, point-to-point, is needed, and in the works. I rather doubt that fuel-based cars disappear by 2024, but widespread (not total) disappearance of privately owned vehicles by 2030 seems reasonable.

Lyft and Waymo Reach Deal to Collaborate on Self-Driving Cars

The New York Times reports Lyft and Waymo Reach Deal to Collaborate on Self-Driving Cars.

As the race to bring self-driving vehicles to the public intensifies, two of Silicon Valley’s most prominent players are teaming up.

Waymo, the self-driving car unit that operates under Google’s parent company, has signed a deal with the ride-hailing start-up Lyft, according to two people familiar with the agreement who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The deal calls for the companies to work together to bring autonomous vehicle technology into the mainstream through pilot projects and product development efforts, these people said.

The deal was confirmed by Lyft and Waymo.

“Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation,” a Lyft spokeswoman said in a statement.

The partnership highlights the fluid nature of relationships in the self-driving-car sector. From technology companies to automakers to firms that manufacture components, dozens of players are angling for a slice of an autonomous vehicle market that many believe will ultimately be a multibillion-dollar industry. To gain an edge and outmuscle rivals, many of these players are forming alliances — and sometimes shifting them.

The companies have left hints as to what the partnership could entail. Lyft, for instance, has long said it wants to match its network of passengers and drivers with partners in the transportation industry. Last year, it struck a deal with General Motors, a major Lyft investor, to help with that goal. Under that agreement, the companies plan to test autonomous Chevrolet Bolt vehicles using Lyft’s network with the general public in the next few years.

Waymo has pursued its own partnerships. It is working with Fiat Chrysler on a fleet of minivans and is in talks with Honda about a possible deal that would put Waymo technology in Honda test vehicles. Waymo also recently introduced a pilot program in Phoenix in which consumers can apply to hail self-driving Chrysler minivans and Lexuses for free rides around the city.

Capitalism at its Finest

Competition is intense. Corporations are investing hundreds of billions of dollars of their own money on technology. Deals, mergers, alliances, and lawsuits (Google vs Uber) are all in play, on a massive scale.

This is capitalism at its finest.

Some point to how few autonomous cars are on the roads. It all starts somewhere. In 1900, in New York City, there was not a car on the road. By 1920, there was not a horse in sight.

Others say they will never accept the technology. Perhaps they will when their insurance costs go through the roof. Regardless, the technology is perfect for people who live in major urban areas. Busses are not flexible enough, and taxis are neither fast enough or cheap enough.

Waymo, Lyft, Uber (if it survives), and other players will easily solve the on-demand nature. The result will be widespread acceptance.

Long-haul trucks will be first of course. Those drivers will vanish soon. A death spiral for car ownership will follow. The only thing in question is the timeline.

Disruption will be massive. Insurance companies and service stations are in for radical changes. For discussion, please consider Second-Order Consequences of Self-Driving Vehicles.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock