Mfioct14blog 2

Cars as a service

One of the new realities is that we are now a service-providing rather than a goods-producing dominant economy. And that high-paying work is now knowledge-based rather than factory-based. These are realities that politics/policy can’t change. Those individuals and communities that align with, rather than resist, will do best.

Lyft co-founder John Zimmer in his Third Transportation Revolution essay we explored in my last post writes about transportation becoming primarily a service. He writes:

A full shift to “Transportation as a Service” is finally possible, because for the first time in human history, we have the tools to create a perfectly efficient transportation network. We saw this potential in 2012 when Lyft became the first company to establish peer-to-peer, on-demand ridesharing, which is now what the world knows simply as ridesharing. What began as a way to unlock unused cars, create economic opportunities and reduce the cost of transportation, has today become the way millions of Americans get around.

Ridesharing is just the first phase of the movement to end car ownership and reclaim our cities. As I mentioned before, the shift to autonomous cars will expand dramatically over the next ten years, transforming transportation into the ultimate subscription service.

This service will be more flexible than owning a car, giving you access to all the transportation you need. Don’t drive very often? Use a pay-as-you-go plan for a few cents every mile you ride. Take a road trip every weekend? Buy the unlimited mileage plan. Going out every Saturday? Get the premium package with upgraded vehicles. The point is, you won’t be stuck with one car and limited options. Through a fleet of autonomous cars, you’ll have better transportation choices than ever before with a plan that works for you.

In Zimmer’s vision the goods-producing industry––motor vehicles––that was at the core of the America’s––and even more so Michigan’s––20th Century prosperity will transition to a service-based industry. The manufactured product––the car––becomes a commodity that is primarily used to provide a service. The industry becomes mobility not autos.

The main economic value add will be both in the engineering and design of autonomous vehicles and the ability to get to customers the best––quality and cost––on-demand service to get from point A to point B. Talk about disruptive change!

Most of us continue to believe that service jobs are low paying and goods-producing jobs are high paying. No more. Those who engineer and design autonomous vehicles (engineering and design are services) and those who design and execute systems that best get you where you want to go quickly, safely and at low cost are typical of the workers now, and even more so in the future, that will earn high wages.

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Lou Glazer

Lou Glazer is President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future’s mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy. Its work is funded by Michigan foundations.

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