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The first half of the twentieth century witnessed the domination of Americans in the automobile industry, with three big auto companies (Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler) emerging by the 1920s. History has shown us that automobiles had their greatest economic and social impact in the U.S. in 1980, when about 87.2 percent of American residents owned one or more vehicles, 51.5 percent owned more than one, and 95 percent of domestic car sales were for a replacement.

Recent studies and trends, however, indicate that Americans won’t be needing or purchasing as many automobiles in the future. But why is that?

According to research released by Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), current data indicates that people, especially young people, are less interested in owning cars, invariably bringing America and the world to the “Peak Car.” A concept used to describe the hypothesis that motor vehicle distance traveled per capita, predominantly by private car, has peaked i.e. reached its apex and will now reduce in a continuous manner.

RMI’s findings showed that for the past decade U.S has shown signs of hitting ‘peak car,’ the point at which car sales, ownership, and driving, in general, reduces significantly.

The recent research released by the American Census Bureau showed that families with no car have become more common than in the last five years. In the U.S, there is an increase of families who didn’t have a car in 2015, compared to 8.9% in 2010.

The above table shows the complete list of the increase in car-free households by state (data in percents).

Researchers say the reason for peak car, especially among Millennials in the U.S, might not be explained just by figures and numbers. Gilles Vesco says that it is a vision of cities, where the residents will opt for public transport, shared cars, and bikes using real-time data on their smartphones. Thus bringing us into the world of digital technology and an urban city where people will be willing to share transportation modes, public space, information, and new services.

However, there are economic benefits of reducing car ownership in the U.S., according to Jonathan Walker. These include:

    Increased time management

    Saving land space and using the land devoted to parking for other beneficial use

    Reduction in environmental pollution

    Decrease in traffic mortality rate

Another reason might be as a result of transport companies such as Uber and Lyft, and other local car-sharing companies that allow people to share vehicles without owning them.

RMI report that by 2018, if Americans continue to use the transport companies at a price that costs the same as owning and operating a car, it might influence more U.S residents to let go of private car ownership.

What do you think? Do you see the value in still owning a car? Only the drivers themselves can truly decide.