Drivers may ditch cars for Uber-style car hire service in climate change bid, says expert

Jonathan Smith, Senior Principal Consultant at engineering firm Expleo, claims children of tomorrow will never own a car, with future generations reliant on ride-hailing apps and rental software. He claims personal vehicle ownership has led to a surplus of cars on Britain’s road network and increased congestion. Smith has declared the technology for a system is readily available, referring to Uber’s pool service which picks up various fares from different locations. The expert explains how similar technology could be implemented across the national infrastructure with a sufficient investment boost.  

Smith added: “Such a system would give consumers the capacity to share school runs, trips to the shops, visits to the local GP and so on. 

“Regardless of whether the car was fully automated, electric, hydrogen or pulled by horses each consumer would have the same level of access as the next. enabling communities to come together and collectively ‘do their bit’. 

“Through such a shift, we would expect vehicle ownership as a service to result in a reduction in the number of cars on the road, journeys made, length of journey, traffic collisions, demand for fossil fuels, congestion and dangerously high levels of inner-city pollution.”

The remarks come just weeks after politicians from the Science and Technology Select committee launched a battle against private vehicles across the nation. 

The group revealed long-term widespread personal vehicle ownership was not compatible with sufficient levels of decarbonisation. 

MPs also pushed for improvements to car-sharing services and public transport to tackle climate issues and encouraged more people to walk and cycle. 

Smith claims the only way to achieve a net-zero carbon target in the UK is for the technology to become hardwired into national infrastructure. He said manufacturers and stakeholders should be looking to implement efficient technology. 

He added: “We know consumers are beginning to appreciate the need for the industry to move in this fiction, with 67 per cent of consumers expecting their use of car-sharing services to ‘increase, or increase a lot’, in the next two years.” 

Car sharing services are on the up across the country as the number of schemes increased from 3188 in 2015 to 5385 in 2019. 

Membership of car-sharing scheme CoMoUk has almost doubled over the past five years, with their figures showing a rise from 189,411 members in 2015 to over 350,000 today. 

The scheme mainly operates in the UK’s larger cities, with London seeing over 3,500 vehicles compared to just single figures in smaller towns such as Chichester and Leicester. 

Drivers can book cars in advance for as little as £3.50 per hour or use a peer-to-peer service allowing those with underused vehicles to rent their cars to neighbours and residents. 

The Government will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2040 in a bid to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions output. 

The Science and Technology Committee has hit back at the move, claiming the ban should be brought forward to 2035 and include hybrid vehicles. 

If given the go-ahead, the calls would mean fully-electric motors would be the only option for motorists from 2035, with traditional vehicles axed completely. 

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