People Are Choosing Uber and Lyft Over Buying a New Car

May 26, 2017 - 2 minutes read

Whatever else we can say about Uber, it has dramatically changed the way the world gets from point A to point B. At this point, 39% of Americans have at least tried a ride-hailing service, and 27% use one multiple times a week. But it seems that more and more Americans are making apps like Uber and Lyft their primary source of transportation. It’s not that hard for Houston iPhone app developers to fantasize about a world where just about the only people who own cars are the people driving for Uber or Lyft.

While that may be a far-fetched scenario, a small cohort of (former) drivers is making ride-share apps its number one source of transportation. A Reuters/Ipsos survey released yesterday shows that 9% of Americans who sold or traded in a car in the last year have switched to services like Uber and Lyft to get around instead of buying a new car. Roughly the same percentage of respondents said they planned on making a similar trade-in in the next year. App developers dream of the day their app idea might reconfigure the world; it appears as if ride-share services like Uber and Lyft are doing it.

It’s hard to tell how quickly this trend is growing since the poll just started measuring respondents making this choice. But auto companies can read the writing on the wall and are trying to adapt accordingly, with automakers investing in, and collaborating with, ride-share services and autonomous driving researchers. This trend seems unlikely to reverse as long as young people are moving to the city (or are too underpaid to actually afford a car). For some, it’s a practical choice, while for others it’s a deliberate lifestyle change, a move towards a more minimalist existence. Perhaps that’s why so many mobile app developers are trying to fight their way into the crowded (and Uber-dominated) ride-sharing space.

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