Traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

As Uber and Lyft team with automakers to invest in AV technology and expand their ride-sharing options, these services may contribute to a decline in personal car ownership that will make such partnerships even more essential to automakers.

The big picture: An initial drop in private car purchases will likely be limited to dense cities, and it's still too early to know how it will be affected by other trends in urban planning and public transit.

Background: Vehicles lose 40% of their value to depreciation in year one, and car owners deal with ongoing associated costs — insurance, maintenance, financing, fuel, parking and more.

  • Even so, the people who do the most driving, chiefly in suburban and rural areas, are the least likely to give up their cars, given current trends and more individualized commuting routes.
  • Ride-sharing accounts for only 1% of vehicle miles traveled and has so far had a negligible impact on car ownership.

What's happening: The impact of AVs on private car ownership remains speculative, but their arrival could coincide with increased traffic congestion, decreased vehicle production and improvements in mass transit.

  • It's expected that high initial prices for AVs will make private ownership economically unsustainable, but that ride-sharing services and their ability to monetize their fleets could offset the upfront costs of large-scale deployment.
  • Both Uber and Lyft are also expanding their offerings to include bicycles and scooters. The popularity of bicycles has peaked during past surges in gas prices, suggesting a relationship between car costs and bike use.
  • Some automakers, including Ford, are reducing the number of models they manufacture, and Ford, GM, and Tesla have all taken recent steps to cull their workforces — possibly signaling they see a future with fewer car purchases according to Wards Auto.

What to watch: Public investments in mass transit may be a more reliable indicator than tech investments of whether people will move away from reliance on private vehicles.

  • Increased and improved mobility options won big in last week's midterm elections, when roughly 83% of public transportation ballot initiatives passed, in places from Maine to Florida.

Keith Lehmann is a technology consultant and the former managing director of the Connected Car Council. He is also a member of GLG, a platform connecting businesses with industry experts.

Go deeper

Updated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 p.m. ET: 19,511,596 — Total deaths: 724,590 — Total recoveries — 11,876,387Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 p.m. ET: 4,995,369 — Total deaths: 162,461 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid — Democrats slam Trump, urge GOP to return to negotiations
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.

Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid

President Trump speaking during a press conference on Aug. 8. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Saturday signed four executive actions to provide relief from economic damage sustained during the coronavirus pandemic after talks between the White House and Democratic leadership collapsed Friday afternoon.

Why it matters: Because the Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate federal spending, Trump has limited authority to act unilaterally — and risks a legal challenge if congressional Democrats believe he has overstepped.

10 hours ago - World

What's next for Lebanon after the Beirut explosion

Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Beirut residents are still clearing rubble from streets that appear war-torn, days after a blast that shocked the country and horrified the world.

Why it matters: The explosion is likely to accelerate a painful cycle Lebanon was already living through — discontent, economic distress, and emigration.