Impact of ridesharing “dramatically overstated”, analyst argues


Consumer interest may be less than expected for ridesharing and other car-related technological developments.

According to TECHnalysis Research founder Bob O'Donnell, popular automotive technologies like ridesharing and self-driving cars may not be as interesting to customers as the industry says.

Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft are gaining traction among investors for their larger vision of turning cars into services. This vision of providing automotive service rather than ownership could potentially reshape the transportation infrastructure and automotive industry as a whole, but O'Donnell suggests that it may not be as promising in reality.

O'Donnell highlights the results of a TECHnalysis Research survey that found that consumer interest in such services is dramatically lower than current perceptions. The survey looked at 1,000 US consumers who owned a car and expect to purchase one in the coming two years.

The study found that a large percentage of these respondents still have little to no experience in using ridesharing services. Around 57% have never used ridesharing, and another 23% have used it just once or twice. Just around 20% are semi-regular or regular users of ridesharing.

However, it needs to be noted that the survey does not account for people who have already decided to now own a car, which O'Donnell insists is likely a tiny percentage.

Meanwhile, autonomous driving features and electric/hybrid drivetrains ranked last in a list of 12 car characteristics that the respondents considered. Consumers are clearly moving at a pace slower than the industry's expectations in terms of technology adoption. Despite growing interest in automotive technologies, their influence on purchase decisions remains small.

Consumers remain content with incremental technology improvements in their future car purchases, according to the survey. One of the biggest changes that the respondents prioritised for their next car purchase was an increased interest in Wi-Fi connectivity.

Some of the prioritised tech features focus on safety. Among seven autonomous features, the favourite was a blind-spot warning feature with automatic intervention. This was followed by smart front/rear cameras liked to automated braking systems. There is also more interest in autonomous features than for electric/hybrid drivetrains. 

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