Consumerism has always been a huge part of the American culture. The more things we have, the better we feel. We all know the family with three cars: the SUV, the passenger sedan, and the shared car for the kids – all parked in the driveway. We’ve seen people standing in line for hours eager to get their hands on the newest Apple iPhone the day it comes out. Heard of shoppers being trampled on Black Friday for the brand new X-Box. Stories of the couple selling their condo for a bigger, more spacious townhouse – even though they have plenty of room.


The End of Ownership

Over the past three decades, society has spoon-fed us bigger, better, and faster and with the inception of e-commerce retailers like Amazon, eBay, Wayfair, Walmart, Best Buy and Ikea, you can get anything you want with a click of a button – it’ll be at your doorstep in 2-3 days. Now, Amazon is making it even easier to gather more stuff by dropping the-next-best-thing at our front door, the same day, via an AirPrime delivery drone.

There’s a famous line by Brad Pitt in the movie Fight Club: “Stuff ends up owning you!” Whether we like it or not, owning things ends up defining who we are. It starts shaping our daily activities and we start using the things we own unnecessarily – or we don’t use them at all – or better yet, we have a difficult time deciphering between what we actually need versus what we want. Thankfully, there’s been a significant movement putting an ending to the era of ownership and it’s revolutionizing the way we purchase music, watch the latest film, and transport us from point A to point B.

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS)

Gone are the days of owning a CD tower or having an entertainment center filled with DVD’s. We have a Spotify playlist or listen to iTunes. We subscribe to Netflix or we stream movies using Google Play. Music and movies are accessed, not owned. Technology, specifically internet-of-things (IoT) connectivity, has extended this convenience to vehicles and housing. If we need a ride to the airport, we request an Uber through a smartphone app. If we book a trip, simply lock in an Airbnb and request a block of time.

To illustrate the trend towards access instead of ownership, Innovative automobile manufacturers have begun developing electric rideshare concept cars and autonomous driving vehicles in the hopes of penetrating the Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) marketplace. The EV startups, whether they’re located in Silicon Valley or in Germany, are disrupting mobility as we know it for two major reasons: one, they know the volume of natural resources needed to mass produce automobiles; and two, they know that carbon emissions is a major issue and electric rideshares help reduce pollution drastically.

Disruptive EV Technology

From the EasyMile EZ10 autonomous bus to IDEO’s electric rideshare concept, below are two examples of smart Mobility-as-a-Service solutions that will someday replace the need to go out and purchase another vehicle. It may actually reduce that family’s fleet of gas-guzzling cars down to just one – the only one they actually need. According to a recent Futurism article, On-Demand service is “about using things when we actually need them.” Whether it’s giving access to more eco-friendly public transportation or subscribing to an all-electric rideshare vehicle, people will move towards the MaaS model if given the chance.

Here are two disruptive concepts that may end the era of ownership:

IDEO’s Electric Rideshare

With a focus on integrating human mobility and technology, IDEO has developed a revolutionary electric vehicle prototype that combines autonomous driving and ridesharing. As we all know, sharing a ride to work saves everyone money, reduces our carbon footprint, and helps alleviate road congestion. You may even get to work faster by hoping in the carpool lane.

IDEO’s concept car allows owners to choose between ride-sharing, car-sharing, or using their vehicles privately. Whether you want to rent out your vehicle for a couple of hours or offer your vehicle as part of a daily rideshare, the choice is entirely up to the owner. With the uptick in micro-insurances covering all passengers, similar to ZipCar’s operations model, owners have the option of an affordable insurance policy and at the same time, make enough money to cover the expenses of owning their car.

Whether it’s tracking your car’s rideshare usage over the past month or summoning your autonomous vehicle for an early morning lift to work, IDEO’s “Future of Moving Together” project is a brilliant way to solve the ever-increasing congestion in major cities across the world. It’s also a great way for car owners to offset the expenses associated with buying, insuring, and caring for a vehicle over the long run. Lastly, IDEO’s concept is a money-saving venture that covers the cost of ownership and at the same time, provides a ride for up to six passengers – reducing the carbon footprint for each rideshare participant.

The Easy Mile EZ10

The EasyMile EZ10 is a $250,000 autonomous bus with no backup driver capable of traveling a max speed of 40 km/hr (25 mph). It has a cruising speed of 20 km/hr (approximately 12.5 mph). Since Ligier’s self-driving bus is designed for public transportation covering short distances (mostly the last mile), speed takes a back seat to obstacle detection and avoidance.

Designed to service universities, corporate parks, transportation hubs, healthcare hubs, and urban centers, the EasyMile EZ10 can sustain 14 hours of continuous autonomous operation. With three modes of operation (Metro, Bus, and ‘On Demand’), passengers have the option of getting dropped off at predetermined station stops or summoning the electric shuttle via the EasyMile app – similar to requesting an Uber pickup.