Automakers Break Into Ride-Sharing Car Market

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Ride-sharing first became a tech-phenomenon in 2011 when tech-giants, Uber and Lyft, introduced the ability to hail cabs and share rides with friends instantly, through an app available on smart phones. Since then, according to Business Insider, 30% of the U.S. population has reported using some form of a ride-sharing app. Ride-sharing has made transportation fast and convenient, and the industry is only growing as new companies look to break into the market.

However, as Popular Mechanics explains, the sharing trend, as opposed to individuals purchasing and operating their own vehicles, started with car-sharing. Car-sharing became a trend in the automotive industry in 2000 and was popularized by a company called ZipCar, but has just recently taken off since the development of smart phones. Car-sharing allows customers to purchase a membership with a car-sharing service such as ZipCar, which customers can then use along with the company’s website or app, to locate the nearest vehicle, flash their membership card to unlock the vehicle, and then drive the car their reserved time period. While car sharing is very convenient for those who don't own a motor vehicle, it's most common complaint is that most car-sharing companies' customers are given the option to be charged by the day, hour, minute, or mile they drive. Being charged by the minute or mile can get very expensive. However, the positive aspect to car-sharing is that gas and insurance are already included in the fee.

While it was the first to gain popularity, ZipCar is now one of many similar services. Last year, The Michigan Law Firm Blog wrote an article about GM launching its own car-sharing service, Maven. In an effort to become the leading forerunner in personal mobility services, GM acquired assets from Sidecar, a ride-sharing start-up company, in January of 2016 and has also teamed up with the premier ride-sharing brand, Lyft. GM has also broken into the ride-sharing market by introducing Maven Gig, a service that allows drivers for Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing services to rent Chevy Volts, if they do not have a car of their own, to drive their ride-share costumers in. 

More recently, Daimler and BMW have become the next large automakers attempting to challenge Silicon Valley by designing their own car-sharing and ride-sharing programs. According the The New York Times, Daimler, the makers of the luxury brand, Mercedes-Benz, first introduced its car-sharing brand, Car2Go, in 2008 in Germany, and has since grown to serve about 2.4 million members across 9 countries. 33% of Car2Go members are even located in North America. The Car2Go program has yielded positive results after a 3-year study of 10,000 members done by U.C. Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center, which reported that Car2Go service has reduced vehicle ownership and miles traveled in privately owned cars. As a result, greenhouse emissions have been reduced, 2% to 5% of Car2Go members have sold their privately owned vehicles, and 7% to 10% of members have stopped seeking to purchase a vehicle because of the service.

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BMW first launched its own car-sharing service, DriveNow, in Europe in 2011. In December of 2016, it went on to launch its North American car-sharing service, ReachNow. BMW has also been testing its own ride-sharing service in Seattle as well. Steve Banfield, the CEO of ReachNow, explained the company’s reasoning to enter into both car-sharing and ride-sharing markets by stating that “sometimes they (customers) want to be driven, sometimes they want to drive. Sometimes they want the car for several days, sometimes they want the car for 10 minutes.” Banfield further explained that offering customers different ways to move about cities allows the company to study and research the method of transportation individuals prefer to use, allowing the company to become closer to the consumer. Both services also allow BMW to promote their luxury brand by offering temporary rides and mobility to individuals. 

A future with autonomous vehicles is inevitable, so it is important for companies to mold a business strategy that will allow themselves to adapt to a new automotive industry that will no longer require individuals to purchase and operate their own vehicles. BMW has reportedly partnered with Intel to begin production of autonomous cars by 2021, while Daimler and Uber have partnered to start their own creation of self-operating vehicles. These large automakers hope by creating their own personal mobility brands and creating early plans to start autonomous vehicle production, they will be able dominate the market in the future.

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With these car-sharing and ride-sharing programs, it is important to remember that human drivers are still operating these vehicles (that is, until vehicles become autonomous). Therefore the risk of a car accident due to human error is always present. Thus, passengers should always stay alert while riding in a vehicle and follow car safety precautions such as wearing a seat belt.


The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC is a Metro Detroit law firm that handles all types of accident cases. If you or someone you know has been involved in car, bus, motorcycle, or truck accident, call the The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.

Daimler's Autonomous Future Truck

Visitors to The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog may have been keeping up with news on autonomous technology from companies like Ford, Toyota, and Google. A company that we haven't yet mentioned however, is Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz. Daimler is also a member of the autonomous car industry and was one of the first to begin the automated transportation revolution with its development of self-driving trucks. The world of semi-trucks was transformed with the creation of the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck. The truck's design includes automated driving capabilities that will allow drivers to operate the heavy, cargo-bearing vehicle much more easily, efficiently, and comfortably. Diamler-created autonomous technology, called Highway Pilot, has set the Future Truck apart from competitors, allowing it to be the safest semi-truck of its kind. Daimler had previously planned to release the Future Truck in 2025, giving driver-less car onlookers a not-so-far away glimpse into what roads may look like in the near future.
 

Source:  Daimler

Source: Daimler

Mercedes-Benz Highway Pilot Autonomous Technology


The Future Truck uses Highway Pilot software to autonomously control driving. Daimler envisions a workplace similar to a living room for truckers, where they can relax as they control driving with an iPad. Highway Pilot uses sensors to observe areas in front of the vehicle and to take over control in certain situations, such as during sudden stops. Highway Pilot allows the humans to do all the thinking, without incurring any risk, and leaves the driving to the truck itself. 

Another characteristic of the Future Truck is vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Self-driving trucks will be able to pull over for emergency vehicles or slow down with traffic congestion, using data from the inter-vehicle signals. The trucks will be also be able to switch lanes and react to broken down vehicles on the shoulder, even steering and braking through construction zones with the help of its communication features. 

Source:  Daimler

Source: Daimler

Daimler has embraced the opportunity to transform the future of long-distance driving with the development of their Future Truck. Klaus Riff, Deputy Head of Prevention for G Verkehr–Transport Industry Professional Association, confirmed for Daimler that truck drivers face extreme demands everyday, due to factors like sustained attention, tight schedules, and high traffic density. Not only are individual drivers likely to benefit from automated technology, but entire business models will be rearranged. Business Insider mentions how labor costs will be controlled differently and workloads will be streamlined, affecting businesses and consumers with these steps towards more advanced trucks. 

Daimler's Highway Pilot technology was officially tested in October 2015 with the Mercedes-Benz Actros truck, making it the world's first series-production truck to operate autonomously on a motorway. A top German politician, Winfried Kretschmann, and Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Board Member of Daimler AG responsible for Trucks and Buses, rode on the maiden journey of the Mercedes-Benz Actros with the Highway Pilot system, further displaying Daimler's commitment to ease of driving and safety precautions.

Autonomous Truck Regulations

Automated trucks, just like autonomous cars, have not been developed without closely monitored regulations. Four states in the US currently allow the operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads under certain conditions. Those states are Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan. Europe has been facing more strict restrictions. Vehicle safety tests in the EU have been designed for cars with someone behind the wheel, meaning the Future Truck and other driver-less cars like it, fail these tests. Politico reported last year that there were no plans to review this law, setting Europe back from the US and other countries where autonomous driving has been tested on roads. 

Source:  Daimler

Source: Daimler

Additionally, policies have regulated truck driver workweeks, working to help reduce motor vehicle fatalities that drowsy driving from a combination of lack of sleep and long hours on highway roads may cause. Semi-truck drivers carrying cargo may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 hours off duty, and according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), may only drive 60/70 hours on duty in 7/ 8 consecutive days. With the release of the Future Truck, truck drivers will be able to rest more often and therefore go longer distances in faster times. Human error will be minimized since trucks will be driving themselves. 
 
Daimler’s automated semi-trucks will soon be approaching reality after years of planning, and the world will finally experience a new type of long-distance travel. Planes, trains, and automobiles are all slowly becoming autonomous, and the transportation industry is just on the brink of a revolution. Daimler and Mercedes-Benz have been a step ahead of the pack, and only have to look eight more years ahead to see The Future Truck front and center. 

Source: Daimler


The future of semi-trucks is looking autonomous and automated. In the present time however, while trucks are still being operated by humans, automobile drivers should take caution  when driving near trucks, as their size makes it harder for them to react quickly to vehicles around them. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a semi-truck or other large vehicle, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.