Ep 40. Paradoxes: AVs and environment; AVs and car brands; AVs and cities

Today, Episode 40! We discuss paradoxes! Specifically: With AVs making it easier for people to drive more places more frequently and more distances, what does this mean for the environment? What do AVs mean for more drive-oriented, enthusiast car brands? And, with AVs effectively killing all sorts of driving infractions including moving violations and parking tickets, what will cities do to avoid going bankrupt?

1. Paradox One: AVs and the environment

Autonomous cars and electric vehicles are certainly necessary; but they’re not sufficient: what’s needed is a third factor, namely, carpooling or ride sharing — basically, something that eschews the concept of contemporary car ownership. With this trifecta of factors, no amount of autonomous electric cars will do anything for the environment; if anything, they will hurt it further.

2. Paradox Two: AVs and car brands

For car brands that have been built entirely atop driver enthusiasm and emotion, from Ford’s legendary and venerable Mustang, to the BMW M and Mercedes-AMG cars, and up through Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini, autonomous cars are antithetical with the very essence of what they stand for. On the other hand, brands like Bentley or Rolls Royce are already living in a pseudo autonomous world: their owners are largely chauffeured about by men named in crisply tailored suits, often named Alfred. It will be interesting to see how different marques embrace autonomous cars.

3. Paradox Three: AVs and cities’ coffers

With autonomous cars come huge wins for people: lower cost of ownership, and indeed, a potential new source of income as your autonomous car zips about picking up passengers for you; driver’s insurance reduced to basically zero, while health insurance plummets as well since driving is the riskiest thing most of us do every day; and of course, no more traffic infractions and moving violations! Yay! Not so great for cities, though, which make most of their revenue from parking tickets. What solution, to prevent cities going bankrupt, and without flexing the big bad “T” word — taxes — to such an extent that the roll out of autonomous vehicles is hindered?


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