ECA Newsletter 8/9/17
Look Ma, No Hands!
We have all read with amusement, trepidation, and wonderment about the move some companies are making in the area of driverless vehicles. We read about UBER testing extensively, we read about Google’s vision of becoming a huge fleet owner of electric vehicles that will not need drivers to operate them, and we have read about this futuristic concept impacting our driver habits and car ownership needs.
Think about the impact the movement towards driverless cars might have on our society:
- It is estimated that self-driving autonomous vehicles, when fully adopted, will reduce traffic congestion by 80%
- and increase green space in cities by 30%, as road lanes and parking spaces are taken out of service,
- and take away 90% of the production of GMC and Ford vehicles as the shift will be towards not owning your own cars, but rather calling for a ride and having a driverless electric vehicle show up at your location to haul you to where you want to go, and
- and the impact on gas and oil companies is already being considered and planned for as the giants in oil and gas are heavily investing in alternative energy platforms as well as the driverless vehicle firms that are on the cutting edge.
Will driverless vehicles kill the oil and gas sector? Some big companies are betting big money on the driverless vehicle movement. Just this spring, Giant ChipMaker Intel, bought a firm that has 663 employees working on driverless technology for $15.3 billion.
Many analysts thought Intel was “nuts” for paying that much for a heretofore unproven company that is not making money yet, but I think Intel was pretty damn smart for getting in on the ground floor of an industry that is coming at us hard and fast-the electric vehicle industry. We just read about Tesla being worth more than either Ford of GMC despite having a small fraction of their market share.
Here are some of the discussion points being talked about: if driverless vehicles continue developing and are able to deal with the “fear factor” of trusting your safety to a robot, some projections have car ownership phased out by 2030. Only those that have to haul their tools with lumber racks will still be buying vehicles and driving them. Everyone else will be riding in a car that will be able to travel on the highway at much faster speeds than a “normal” car and do so with another driverless vehicle inches off their front bumper as well as their rear bumper. The big “shift” for our ECA industry might be from “expanding” our roadway capacity, to maintaining our roads in a much smoother surfacing state.
Whichever way the driverless vehicle goes, our industry looks very solid for many decades to come. The other place to consider putting your investment money to good use? Buy parking lots in big cities as they will not be needed in another 20 years. If they are not needed in 20 years, they will be very valuable for building much needed infill housing on. After all, you can jam a lot of housing into a parking lot if you do not need a garage!
That’s All Folks!
Why Don’t We Trust Government?
SB-1 passed which increases California State spending for road and bridge projects, yet, here comes CALTRANS hiring 1100 new workers before any new projects go to bid. No wonder we do not trust Government.