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posted by martyb on Sunday November 23 2014, @09:22AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the prefer-to-own-an-automobile dept.

Jerry Hirsch writes in the LA Times that personal transportation is on the cusp of its greatest transformation since the advent of the internal combustion engine. For a century, cars have been symbols of freedom and status but according to Hirsch, passengers of the future may well view vehicles as just another form of public transportation, to be purchased by the trip or in a subscription. Buying sexy, fast cars for garages could evolve into buying seat-miles in appliance-like pods, piloted by robots, parked in public stalls. "There will come a time when driving the car is like riding the horse," says futurist Peter Schwartz. "Some people will still like to do it, but most of us won't." People still will want to own vehicles for various needs, says James Lentz, chief executive of Toyota's North American operations. They might live in a rural area and travel long distances daily. They might have a big family to haul around. They might own a business that requires transporting supplies. "You will still have people who have the passion for driving the cars and feeling the road," says Lentz. "There may be times when they want the cars to drive them, but they won't be buying autonomous-only cars."

One vision of the future is already playing out in Grenoble, France, where residents can rent from a fleet of 70 pod-like Toyota i-Road and Coms electric cars for short city trips. "It is a sharing program like what you see in Portland [Oregon] with bicycles," says Lentz. Drivers can check out and return the cars at various charging points. Through a subscription, they pay the equivalent of $3.75 for 30 minutes. Because the vehicles are so small, it's easy to build out their parking and charging infrastructure. Skeptics should consider the cynicism that greeted the horseless carriage more than a century ago, says Adam Jonas who adds that fully autonomous vehicles will be here far sooner than the market thinks (PDF). Then, Jonas says, skeptics asked: "Why would any rational person want to replace the assuredness of that hot horse body trustily pulling your comfortable carriage with an unreliable, oil-spurting heap of gears, belts and chains?"

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday November 23 2014, @10:06AM

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Sunday November 23 2014, @10:06AM (#119060) Journal

    At a minimum, there will be more taxi-like trips once autonomous cars become ubiquitous, since they will be cheaper to rent than taxis while fulfilling the same role. No driver to pay, algorithmic precision in picking up new passengers, no need to stop other than fuel or maintenance.

    Auto ownership and operation are already decreasing among millenials [nytimes.com], even without widespread access to autonomous cars. Rentable autonomous cars will cause ownership to decline further. Cities with public transportation might see train and bus use increase somewhat if non-owners have a choice between the flexibility of the autonomous car or cheaper public transit, rather than using their own car that they have sunk money into (purchase/payments, insurance, fuel, maintenance, garage).

    Some people will resist the change, clinging to their auto ownership as a symbol of independence or status. But a decade or two after the autonomous debut, ownership will be associated with wealth. Insurance costs will double or more. If human operation declines dramatically, in-car breathalyzers might become a mandatory feature or retrofit for human-operated cars.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 23 2014, @10:29AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 23 2014, @10:29AM (#119067)

      When I visited Chili years back many people there didn't drive. Taxis were so cheap and prevalent that many people took them to work and back. Heck the people that picked us up from the airport took a taxi to the airport and we took a taxi back. At the exit there were taxi drivers lined up begging us for their labor. Very different from what you see in the U.S. where the industry is monopolized due to corruption. You actually have freedoms in Chili and their citizens participate in the political process. For instance you can own a slot machine in your backyard and allow random people and neighbors to come in and gamble.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 23 2014, @12:57PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 23 2014, @12:57PM (#119084)

      It's a sad, sad future. Hopefully i'll be dead before that. I have no hobby there, it'd just be work and sleep.

    • (Score: 1) by Fauxlosopher on Sunday November 23 2014, @02:50PM

      by Fauxlosopher (4804) on Sunday November 23 2014, @02:50PM (#119112) Journal

      Some people will resist the change, clinging to their auto ownership as a symbol of independence or status. But a decade or two after the autonomous debut, ownership will be associated with wealth. Insurance costs will double or more. If human operation declines dramatically, in-car breathalyzers might become a mandatory feature or retrofit for human-operated cars.

      There are a number of benefits to owning one's own transportation versus borrowing from someone else. Glossing over these benefits seems presumptuous. Some of these benefits are:

      1. Choice of geographical location is greater when transportation is owned. Owning a car in New York City is less important than in Sticks, Alabama.
      2. Ownership of transportation allows for instant utilization, which can easily be shown as useful in situations such as medical emergencies.
      3. Privacy is generally better maintained with personally-owned transportation. I expect the majority of transportation companies and customers to prefer electronic payment, since the majority of customers tend not to value the confidentiality of their purchases and companies love having the data to mine.

      This is not said to discount the value and utility of autonomous transportation that people borrow rather than own, but to point out some of the always-present trade-offs.

      (The comment regarding "mandatory breathalyzers" seems out of place, considering the subject matter of the potential proliferation of automated automobiles - such transport would seem to be a boon to habitual drunks, as in much of the United States, for example, a person is at risk of arrest for "drunken driving" if they are discovered to be sleeping in their car's backseat and with their car's keys in the trunk! To suggest ignition interlocks in specific be mandated smacks of forbidden prior restraint.)

      • (Score: 2) by Jeremiah Cornelius on Sunday November 23 2014, @04:57PM

        by Jeremiah Cornelius (2785) on Sunday November 23 2014, @04:57PM (#119147) Journal

        Evacuation, if the shit hits the fan near you.

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      • (Score: 1) by theronb on Sunday November 23 2014, @07:44PM

        by theronb (2596) on Sunday November 23 2014, @07:44PM (#119183)

        useful in situations such as medical emergencies.

        In many cases, depending of course on your location, you're better off calling an ambulance, as the EMTs can provide initial treatment during transportation. The worst option is driving yourself alone during a medical emergency, although I can't say I would be any more sensible.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday November 24 2014, @12:11AM

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday November 24 2014, @12:11AM (#119265) Journal

        It's 2050. Autonomous cars on the road: closer to 90% than 50%. Accidents are way down. Insurance rates are up for the remaining drivers, who are wealthier. Almost nobody drives for a living. Human driving and non-autonomous vehicles are not banned, but there are additional regulations, particularly for new vehicles. If ignition interlocks aren't mandatory, then having one definitely lowers your insurance rate.

        Urban population (tracked by the Census Bureau [census.gov]) creeps towards 90%. But cost pressures might make autonomous driving the norm even in Sticks, Alabama (in 2050).

        I wouldn't be optimistic about the state of privacy after 10-30 years. Moore's so-called law might be able to continue past 2025 by stacking transistors vertically. Every new phone will be a smartphone, aka a tracking device [networkworld.com]. Battery technology will improve. IoT devices will take off. I don't know what will happen to Google Glass, but there will be a lot of cheap cameras, and algorithms will be able to monitor the footage. A huge grassroots backlash against surveillance hasn't materialized post-Snowden, and resistance to surveillance will fight an uphill battle against IoT and other technology trends. Privacy cases [wikipedia.org] have had mixed results [nytimes.com].

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        • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday November 25 2014, @06:51PM

          by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday November 25 2014, @06:51PM (#119884) Journal

          Every new phone will be a smartphone, aka a tracking device [networkworld.com].

          You realize that phones being tracking devices has nothing to do with smartphones, right? It's literally been true of *every single telephone ever operated*, both mobile and landlines. They've gotta connect to be useful, and whoever connects them knows exactly where they are.

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Sunday November 23 2014, @04:47PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Sunday November 23 2014, @04:47PM (#119145)

      Auto ownership and operation are already decreasing among millenials

      There's an obvious and simple reason for this phenomenon which has nothing to do with technology or hippie-ness: They're broke. When you're broke, you can't take on the costs of car ownership.

      --
      The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 23 2014, @07:26PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 23 2014, @07:26PM (#119173)

        to add to that...

        Also living with your parents gives you access to their cars as well.

        Our gov also went and did the cash for clunkers thing. Which removed a good chunk of used cars out of circulation. Those are the cars people with little to no money bought. As they were not worth much. Which also had the side effect of raising the value of the remaining cars (scarcity increases value).

        • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Monday November 24 2014, @03:12PM

          by Thexalon (636) on Monday November 24 2014, @03:12PM (#119425)

          The initial price of the car is not even close to the only expensive involved in owning one. Insurance, maintenance and repairs (even if you're doing the work yourself, parts cost money), gas, etc all add up. So even if you could get a beat-up car for $400 or something, you still could easily be spending $300-$500 a month on it, which is really expensive compared to a monthly transit pass (assuming the person in question lives in a city, of course). And if you're trying to do long-distance travel on the cheap, the answer is usually Megabus or Greyhound or their competitors.

          --
          The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
      • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Monday November 24 2014, @02:55PM

        by TheRaven (270) on Monday November 24 2014, @02:55PM (#119420) Journal

        It's not being broke, it's being able to look at cost/benefit ratios. I pondered getting a car about 10 years ago. I looked at how much it would cost and decided I'd put that money into savings instead. That meant that I had enough money after five years to put down the deposit on a house. When I looked at places to buy, it was a lot cheaper to live a long way out of town, but most of that went away once you factored in mandatory car ownership. Instead I bought somewhere 15 minutes walk from the city centre, 2 minutes walk from a small collection of shops (and a few pubs) and 1 minutes walk from a large and quiet park, with views of the sea from all of the front rooms. And was able to actually drink when I went to the pubs a bit nearer the centre of town.

        I've now paid off almost all of that mortgage (partly by renting out the house after I moved elsewhere) and still don't have a car. I moved somewhere where I cycle everywhere and occasionally get a taxi. Owning a car would take a noticeable chunk of my disposable income for something that I'd rarely use.

        It would be different if I lived in the sprawling wastelands of a US city, where things are so far apart that you spend all of your life getting between them and none of it actually enjoying being in them, but that city structure is the main reason that I haven't seriously considered any of the job offers that I've had from that part of the world.

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    • (Score: 2) by EQ on Sunday November 23 2014, @06:32PM

      by EQ (1716) on Sunday November 23 2014, @06:32PM (#119160)

      Try living outside of an urban core city without owning a car. "clinging" is a pejorative term and and idiotic thing to say. You sound like the typical oblivious urban hipster that cannot see outside his own cultural blinders.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday November 23 2014, @11:28PM

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Sunday November 23 2014, @11:28PM (#119245) Journal

        Clinging was a joke I used to trigger your comment.

        1. These changes will take at least 2-4 decades.
        2. The autonomous car can be your car even outside of urban core cities. Yes, even in states like Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Alaska, etc. It will be cheaper to rent than to own and pay insurance. For commuting to work, you can have a car scheduled to arrive at the same place and same time every day. Time spent waiting for a car to arrive in situations like shopping should typically be less than 5 minutes, but whatever time is wasted will be made up by the low cost and the ability to do other things in the car.
        3. Urbanization is increasing.

        Growth in Urban Population Outpaces Rest of Nation, Census Bureau Reports [census.gov]

        The nation's urban population increased by 12.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, outpacing the nation's overall growth rate of 9.7 percent for the same period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau released the new list of urban areas today based on 2010 Census results.

        Urban areas — defined as densely developed residential, commercial and other nonresidential areas -- now account for 80.7 percent of the U.S. population, up from 79.0 percent in 2000. Although the rural population -- the population in any areas outside of those classified as “urban” — grew by a modest amount from 2000 to 2010, it continued to decline as a percentage of the national population.

        The Census Bureau's urban areas represent densely developed territory and encompass residential, commercial, and other nonresidential urban land uses. The Census Bureau identifies two types of urban areas: “urbanized areas” of 50,000 or more people and “urban clusters” of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people. “Rural” encompasses all population, housing and territory not included within an urban area.

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        • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday November 25 2014, @07:00PM

          by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday November 25 2014, @07:00PM (#119888) Journal

          For commuting to work, you can have a car scheduled to arrive at the same place and same time every day.

          ...which brings up an interesting question: What if you're running late?

          Takes me 30 minutes to get to work. If I'm having a really good day, I might arrive a bit before 7. If I'm running really late, I might arrive a bit before 9. If I'm not outside immediately at 6:30, does the car leave to go pick up someone else? Would I need to reserve and pay for three hours of use every morning even though I only need to go 12 miles? Or do I just get billed extra on the days I'm running late? Or do I just pay per mile, because if they have enough it doesn't matter if it's waiting in my parking lot or theirs?

          Maybe integrate it with my home automation system so it can know when I get out of the shower or something...?

  • (Score: 1) by Gravis on Sunday November 23 2014, @10:28AM

    by Gravis (4596) on Sunday November 23 2014, @10:28AM (#119065)

    the problem with public transit is that it's public. this comes with it's own set of issues. i'm all for autonomous cars but i would still like to have my own vehicle.

    • (Score: 1) by takyon on Sunday November 23 2014, @10:45AM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Sunday November 23 2014, @10:45AM (#119069) Journal

      See my post above. My guess is that you'll be able to drive as you please for the next 35 years.

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      • (Score: 1) by Gravis on Sunday November 23 2014, @05:28PM

        by Gravis (4596) on Sunday November 23 2014, @05:28PM (#119151)

        like Thexalon said, "When you're broke, you can't take on the costs of car ownership."

        What most intrigues me is that rates of car ownership per household and per person started to come down two to three years before the downturn,” said Michael Sivak, who studies the trend and who is a research professor at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. “I think that means something more fundamental is going on.”

        companies have been waging a war of attrition on workers for the last 35 years by paying them less every year in part to the constant devaluation of our currency via inflation. what we are seeing now is the result of income inequality. [the-crises.com]

    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday November 23 2014, @12:30PM

      by kaszz (4211) on Sunday November 23 2014, @12:30PM (#119081) Journal

      Any infrastructure that is rigidly dependent on many factors and especially many people are more prone to interruptions than systems that has fewer dependencies or more efficient ways to deal with failures, like driving around an obstacle.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24 2014, @02:56AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24 2014, @02:56AM (#119291)

      At first I thought that it would be a great idea to have cars just become taxis. Then I realized that the computer might not be able to tell if the previous passenger vomited in the back seat after a night of partying. No thanks.

  • (Score: 1) by lizardloop on Sunday November 23 2014, @01:12PM

    by lizardloop (4716) on Sunday November 23 2014, @01:12PM (#119090) Journal

    If I talk to my elder brother (aged about 40) all he remembers him and friends being interested in when they were late teenagers were cars and using them to pick up girls. Looking at my own teenage years (I'm aged about 30) the car bit was a lot more down played. Talking to my 18 year old colleague at work the idea of car ownership isn't even a consideration. As far as I can tell, and this might just be particular to Britain. The costs of motoring have increased so much (insurance in particular) that it just doesn't make any kind of sense to have car until you are at least in your mid twenties. By then most kids have spent some time at a University in a big city and realized that you don't generally need a car all that often if you build your life in a high density urban area. Once I moved out of my mother's house in the suburbs and went to live in a city centre I stopped bothering with a car and just cycled or taxi'd around.

    I like the trend personally. There is so much inefficiency in personal car ownership. The vast majority of cars spend their lives parked somewhere. Take the average commuter. They will perhaps use the car for two hours a day. The other 22 hours a day it will be sat somewhere decreasing in value. Seems such a waste when it could be out on the road again taking other people on journeys. Then at night it could be ferrying drunks around. If every car was utilised efficiently I would hope the overall number of cars could be reduced.

    • (Score: 1) by Nuke on Sunday November 23 2014, @01:53PM

      by Nuke (3162) on Sunday November 23 2014, @01:53PM (#119100)

      the average commuter .. will perhaps use the car for two hours a day. The other 22 hours .. it will be sat .. decreasing in value. .. a waste when it could be out on the road again taking other people .... Then at night it could be ferrying drunks

      It's going to be lovely, getting into a pod to go to work in the morning after it has been ferrying drunks around the previous night. I suggest taking a change of clothes with you. At least trains and buses get cleaned at the depot during the night, but I can't see that happening with these pods. Trains and buses are designed for it - wide open floors that can be swept or washed out.

      As for cars depreciating in value, that would be solved (since we are talking about radical changes here) if they were designed to last. I have kept mine going for 17 years and nearly 300,000 miles now, and it has not depreciated for at least the last 7 (having reached zero). I can do it, but it could be made a lot easier - trains and buses again are designed for longer life and do far more than that.

      • (Score: 1) by srobert on Sunday November 23 2014, @03:57PM

        by srobert (4803) on Sunday November 23 2014, @03:57PM (#119133)

        Public cars will be for the hoi polloi (most of us). We can look forward to chewing gum on the floormats and a pervasive piss and cigarette smell. On the positive side you won't have to find a parking spot. Rich people will still have their own cars. That's progress.

        • (Score: 2) by keplr on Sunday November 23 2014, @11:45PM

          by keplr (2104) on Sunday November 23 2014, @11:45PM (#119255) Journal

          They'll require you to swipe your credit card/ID card to use it. Then, if there are damages, verified by the in-car cameras (what, you thought you'd have privacy?), your account is automatically billed for the cleaning on top of the cost of the ride.

          --
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          • (Score: 2) by paulej72 on Monday November 24 2014, @03:41AM

            by paulej72 (58) on Monday November 24 2014, @03:41AM (#119306) Journal
            Yes, you will be billed for the cleaning, but will it be cleaned?
            --
            Team Leader for SN Development
            • (Score: 2) by keplr on Monday November 24 2014, @05:32AM

              by keplr (2104) on Monday November 24 2014, @05:32AM (#119324) Journal

              Companies that consistently fail to clean their cabs will go out of business; or people will decide they care more about low prices than cleanliness. I'm usually the token lunatic socialist, but free market principles actually work in cases where you can very precisely isolate the necessary variables and there's a sufficiently low barrier to entry for new firms to compete.

              --
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              • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday November 25 2014, @07:10PM

                by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday November 25 2014, @07:10PM (#119891) Journal

                free market principles actually work in cases where you can very precisely isolate the necessary variables and there's a sufficiently low barrier to entry for new firms to compete.

                ...which is why they'll probably pass laws requiring millions of dollars in insurance and special equipment in order to operate such a taxi service. Hell, many jurisdictions *already* have such laws on the books. That's why Uber keeps getting banned so many places (like the state of New Jersey IIRC.)

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday November 23 2014, @04:30PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 23 2014, @04:30PM (#119142) Journal

        It's going to be lovely, getting into a pod to go to work in the morning after it has been ferrying drunks around the previous night.

        You might not have the time to complain, but there will be people (particularly, the retired) who will and who can find ways to make it very costly for the owning company to keep doing that.

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday November 25 2014, @07:06PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday November 25 2014, @07:06PM (#119890) Journal

      Depends where you live I guess. When I was in college a couple years ago here in the US, if you owned a car you were everybody's best friend basically. Ferrying people to stores or to events...senior year I probably averaged close to 1000 miles a month, always with my car packed as full as possible. Hard to move furniture on a bus, and splitting gas 5 ways for a four hour trip is a hell of a lot cheaper than bus tickets. Not to mention the side issue of rarely getting funding for events more than a month in advance, which means any tickets purchased were often at the last possible minute, and therefore quite expensive.

  • (Score: 1) by Nuke on Sunday November 23 2014, @01:37PM

    by Nuke (3162) on Sunday November 23 2014, @01:37PM (#119096)

    They are talking about cities.

    When I lived in the London suburbs I never used my car for trips within London unless I had something heavy to take. I commuted to work by train plus about a mile of walking. But I used the car when I needed to transport big or heavy things and for excursions like driving out for a walk in the country. Even in the suburbs, I had a hedge to cut that created about 6 Volvo-estate-car loads of cuttings to be taken to the local dump.

    But typical politicians and media world people seem to live a lifestyle that typically centres on a city flat [apartment] : no garden (or if there is one, a gardener), call in handymen to do anything practical, and never do things like taking walk in the countryside (unless it is for a "green" photocall). They see no need for anything other than a city transport pod. All they ever carry is paperwork and a tablet.

    These days I live in the countryside and am always carrying large stuff around, and have a big 4x4 to do so. In the last month I have used it to pull a dead tree out of the ground in my garden, bring home chimney parts for an installation, fetch building blocks and bags of cement mortar ditto, fetch home a new carpet, deliver a washing machine I sold on eBay, and sometimes I pull a caravan. I can't see a hired transport pod coping with half of what I do.

    The worry is that politicians assume everyone lives the same lifestyle that they themselves do, or should do if they don't.

  • (Score: 2) by mmcmonster on Sunday November 23 2014, @02:14PM

    by mmcmonster (401) on Sunday November 23 2014, @02:14PM (#119102)

    I don't think self-driving cars are needed for car-as-a-commodity.

    What you need is a way to refuel a car (plug in with ubiquitous outlets), a way to charge people (credit cards), and a way to confirm people are going to not be ass-hats (registration and smart-phone login to unlock the doors).

    Once an area has enough outlets, getting the cars should happen fairly quickly.

  • (Score: 2) by PizzaRollPlinkett on Sunday November 23 2014, @03:01PM

    by PizzaRollPlinkett (4512) on Sunday November 23 2014, @03:01PM (#119115)

    The problem with not having a car is peak demand. Next Wednesday in America, for example. Say I have a medical problem next Wednesday and don't own a car. The fleet of cars will all be rented out. So what do I do? Unless there is one car per person during peak demand, this won't work, and if there is, why not just own a car?

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    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday November 25 2014, @07:16PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday November 25 2014, @07:16PM (#119893) Journal

      I'm not really sure that's such a problem. Rented self-driving cars aren't going to be for long distances; if you need to commute between cities you'll get a ride to the airport or train station. And in that case you can just have a bunch of shuttle cars that pick people up from the station together and drop them all off on one run. That'll probably be less congested than the daily rush hour peak. THAT is going to cause your problems -- they'll need a ton of cars at 9am and 5pm that will just sit around idle for all but five hours a week. For something as expensive as a car, and considering how short most rental places usually own cars, that's going to be an issue.

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday November 23 2014, @03:04PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 23 2014, @03:04PM (#119119)

    Lots of dancing to avoid "Conspicuous consumption" which is currently the only reason anyone ones anything beyond the basic models (aka all the profit in the industry, roughly)

    I'm a married guy in a job there flashiness doesn't matter, so I can socially safely own and drive a Yaris. But a single dude looking for women or a salesguy / exec needs to drop a lot more money on a car to show that he can drop the money on a car.

    • (Score: 1) by Nuke on Sunday November 23 2014, @05:54PM

      by Nuke (3162) on Sunday November 23 2014, @05:54PM (#119156)

      dancing to avoid "Conspicuous consumption" which is currently the only reason anyone ones [owns?] anything beyond the basic models .. I'm a married guy in a job there flashiness doesn't matter

      That is a very sweeping statement, and the worry is that some policy makers can believe it.

      But if you saw my far from basic model (in case I am one of those you see as "dancing") you would definitely not be calling it flashy. It is big, ugly, 17 years old, bought second-hand, and covered in crap right now (and most of the time) as the roads are either a mud bath or a snow drift around here (high in the Welsh hills) in winter. But I need a big carrier (see earlier post) and I need a 4x4 or I'd be cut off here when it snows. I'm an edge case perhaps, but there are plenty of similar - or different - edge cases.