10 new transportation tools that will change how you move
Just about everything related to transportation is becoming automated, on demand or available to borrow.
Over a few short years, an abundance of VC-funded apps have emerged that crowdsource just about every aspect for transportation, car management and more. The Collaborative Economy has a branch of commerce that’s being dubbed the on-demand economy. Most of these apps are related to transportation, personal services or logistics.
The most funded industry in the Collaborative Economy
In my ongoing studies of tracking market funding of this market, the transportation sector has received the most funding, over $14 billion, out-funding all other industries. The lion’s share goes to ride-sharing apps such as China’s Didi, India’s Ola and America’s Uber; yet hundreds of other business models are emerging that are related to other aspects of car ownership, car management and cars as a service.
Here are just 10 examples, most of which I have used:
1. New cars come to you
Rather than go to a dealership to test drive a car, Tesla, the premium electric car manufacturer, brought a test drive car to my front door with a friendly sales associate. They let me test drive the vehicle without having to leave my own neighborhood block.
2. Auto repair comes to you
A local Silicon Valley auto repair company reminded me of my car maintenance schedule. When I agreed, an account associate came to my house in a loaner car and swapped it out for my vehicle. They later returned my car repaired and tuned up.
3. You rent out your idle car to generate money
This was the first time a stranger drove off with my family vehicle. I listed an idle car on RelayRide and a European college student borrowed it for the weekend. I generated a bit of cash from an idle, depreciating asset.
4. You don’t have to own a car to drive a car
There are many services in which you can borrow a peer’s car such as Getaround or RelayRides from other owners. Or there are a variety of short-term car rental companies such as Zipcar, BMWDriveNow and in some cities, Car2Go.
5. You don’t need long-term car insurance
In many urban cities, car ownership is diminishing and with that, so is long-term car insurance. If you’re only going to borrow a vehicle for a day or a few hours, now you can be covered with fractional insurance from MetroMile.
6. Borrowing cars is a breeze, so you can rideshare
We’ve all heard of Lyft and Uber drivers generating revenue from their idle time — but what if you don’t have a car? Breeze enables fractional ownership so nearly anyone can use one of their vehicles and start generating revenue as a driver.
7. You don’t have to park your own car
San Francisco is dense, traffic is congested and parking is around $25 a day. When I drive to the city, rather than park my own car, Luxe, Carbon or Zirx will park my car for me, all done via their apps, for $15. Read about my experience using Luxe.
8. Car washes come to you
I used Luxe and a valet fetched my car at a push of an app button, saving me time, frustration and money. They also offer a $40 car wash service (local prices are about $30) and they brought my car back to me at the end of the day, spic and span, saving me time.
9. Gas stations come to you
The latest set of apps include Purple (Los Angeles) and Filld (San Francisco), a service where the gasoline is brought to your parked car in under three hours, for less than a $5 fee. Why go to a gas station? It now comes to you. There’s an interesting discussion of the pros and cons on my Facebook feed.
10. You don’t even need to own a car
Most of the time, I don’t even drive to congested San Francisco. A Lyft or Uber fetches me while I get work done on my laptop connected to a Mifi. This saves me time, reduces frustration, lowers parking woes and increases productivity.
Emerging industry has limitations; shakeout looms
In just three years, my lifestyle around transportation and car management radically has changed to become faster, more efficient and more productive. This, of course, comes at a cost; hard-earned money is traded for convenience. The jury is still out on the environmental sustainability of some of these services. Not all of these startups can survive; too many players are in each category, many are over-funded by VCs and most startups aren’t generating a profit. All of these are signs for the inevitable shakeout for the dominant players to emerge.
Spawned in Silicon Valley but spreading to a driveway near you
Living in Silicon Valley is a bubble. Attitudes toward adoption are friendly, it’s a test-ground for new technologies and services, and the culture and environment is not representative of any other culture. One thing is for sure: The best-of-breed technologies quickly spread to other cities at a rapid pace through mobile devices. Remember, at one time disbelievers of social media proclaimed it was only for Silicon Valley techies, but it rapidly spread over the global Internet.
More disruption ahead as self-driving cars emerge in a few years
What’s next for mobility? We’re in a transition phase. Most of the apps and services listed above will be disrupted as self-driving cars emerge from most car manufactures by about 2020 or sooner. I’ve documented the multiple disruptions and opportunities that will emerge when self-driving cars join the mainstream.
Interested in learning more about innovations in transportation? Don't miss UC Berkeley shared mobility expert Susan Shaheen, Robin Chase from Zipcar, Greg Callman from Tesla Motors and Emily Castor from Lyft at VERGE 2015 Oct. 26-29 in San Jose, California.