The short answer to the posed question is: No! In fact, you might want to say, Hell, No! All of us thoroughly enjoy giving rides to our friends. When it comes time to give a ride in our new, not so new or vintage Corvette it’s a moment of pride. What’s really cool is if you have a vintage racer and find yourself able to give a ride along on a twisting course with at least one good straightaway. But in the future you may not have a choice or at least it will be a choice that you will make with guarded thought.
In the interim we will go about our daily business waiting for those weekends when we can get our Corvette out of the garage and leg-it-out on the nearby highways and backroads doing everything we have always dreamed about with our sporty car. No question, driving a Corvette is clearly a thrill ride and in the vernacular of the ’60s, “an E-ticket ride.” But there’s change on the horizon and this horizon is much closer than you may realize.
It’s called “rideshare” and it may be a fact of life, especially for those of us that live in crowed areas such as in the heart of a major city. You see, we are running out of space for parking, lanes to move our traffic, and it’s just expensive nowadays to have a car that we only use 4 percent of the time. Yep, the average car is driven less than 4 percent of the time. That’s a big investment to make in something you don’t drive often. In fact, Corvettes (and other forms of hot rods) are driven even less. Some of these cars wouldn’t even move the “needle” and this represents a lot of money (resources) just sitting there yielding no return.
All one has to do is take a look at the slowing down of the frequency with which our teenagers are getting their drivers licenses. Not so much in the suburbs, country or rural areas but in areas of dense population such as a major city or a city with acceptable public transportation, making it not necessary to have a driver’s license because one doesn’t need a car … at least not right away.
I was reading a survey on American teenagers and when they are likely to apply for a driver’s license. It turns out the University of Michigan researchers did their homework and about 30 years ago found out that 8 in 10 Americans ages 17-19 had a driver’s license while today that number has noticeably dropped to 6 in 10. Further research revealed that back in 1983 (not such a bright spot in Corvette or any Detroit automotive history) about 87 percent of 19-year olds, 80 percent of 18-year olds and 69 percent of 17-year olds took ownership of a driver’s license. Jump forward to 2008, just nine years ago, and the percentages took a noticeable downward turn to 75, 65 and 50, respectively.
According to more data gathered by the research company Sivak and Schoettle reveals that as of 2010, a mere seven years ago, the trend continued downward to about 70 percent of 19-year olds, 61 percent of 18-year olds and 46 percent of 17-year olds had a driver’s license.
I suppose there are all sorts of reasons but the data is there to be interpreted. Ridesharing is coming. Well, actually it’s been around and going fairly strong for the past decade or more. But we, our industry and our hobby will experience a bigger impact in the future. Will we all go to the popular Corvette events and bring with us a barcode and check out a Corvette when we want to drive one? Probably not but you can see there is a change comin’ on the horizon.
Did you know that the average American spends 434 hours (18 days) in their car in a single year? (Should you be a door-to-door salesman or work for a magazine the number is much greater!) Here’s a topper, the number of vehicles on the road is increasing six times faster than the population growth … that’s actually a pretty scary number! We can help alleviate some of this by carpooling to our jobs (if possible) as each day we carpool can help to reduce traffic up upwards of 20 percent per day.
In the big cities or those areas with dense population that have adequate public transportation we can save upwards of 865 million hours of travel time yearly and that can translate into 450 million gallons of gasoline per year. Some say it isn’t but others will tell you it is but commuting to work has been said to cost Americans 3.1 billion gallons of fuel in traffic jams. If you are one of those who is unfortunate enough to have to deal with daily traffic commutes (to and from work) it is costing Americans 6.9 billion hours of extra time spent in traffic. All of this adds up to the average car consuming 550 gallons of gasoline per year.
Look at these statistics and there’s something to be said for owning less cars, or driving less, or (as others would like) to rideshare. Even Detroit knows the total number of new cars and trucks produced each year will begin to decline with the advent of rideshare, autonomous vehicles, and an overall dip in those wishing to get a driver’s license.
What does this mean for us and our Corvettes? Well, it’s going to get more expensive but by doing our part in other aspects of our life we may be able to harness time to do what we enjoy so much, which is the driving of our Corvettes.