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Industry vet Bob Lutz: Driving will be over in 20 years

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Renault Symbioz self-driving car conceptThe fate of the automobile is already sealed, as is your legal right to drive one — both of which will be confined to history books and country clubs in two decades time. The culprit of such a transformative shift in society: self-driving cars. That’s the official prognostication of highly-successful automotive industry executive Bob...

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20 years is too soon in my mind for all legal rights to be removed. Can't force people to buy a self-driving car. I can see maybe the automakers being force to not produce regular cars.

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While I rarely challenge Lutz' thinking, I think on this one I will - to an extent.

One thing his proclamation does not include but is rather implied is that the government will forbid you from owning a car or pod yourself. Either in the name of safety, common sense, or votes. Private firms like Amazon and Uber will own all the "pods" and dictate to the remaining transportation companies (since they won't really be automobiles at some point) what to build.

These Amazon/Ubers will dictate prices in urban and rural areas - shades of unregulated monopoly - that we will then be forced to pay their ransom fees.

Junkyards will have no one to sell parts to, so any old cars brought in will simply be completely crushed and recycled with little or no salvage value.

People seem to be willing to accept the self-driving cars notion is only a good thing - like cattle to slaughter - because it is easy. They simple order up an Uber and away they go. What that means is we are blindly transferring ownership of the transportation infrastructure to a relatively small group of companies.  Anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

The only way to prevent Lutz' predication from coming true is to resist the urge to Uber. Continue to buy and drive cars responsibly. Sure self-driving vehicles have their place, I just don't think they will topple society in a scant 20 years.

I've discussed before the need for a robust infrastructure that needs to be in place before any mass change to an all-electric vehicle society is truly viable. I won't re-hash those details. Mind you, those things still have to happen and we're all going to pay for it one way or another.

Finally, the last problem is dictating or legislating choice. By saying you can't buy fossil fuel by 2040 (like China, UK, and France have done), you are saying what people can and cannot buy. The problem is governments are rarely successful at regulating personal choices, especially given their usual optimistic time frames.

So while I suspect Lutz will ultimately be right (to an extent), I think his timing is off. I am not sure by how much though.

Edited by Frosty

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