The Changing Paradigm in Personal Transportation

Here’s an article that underscores something I firmly believe: the concept of car ownership, a paradigm of the American lifestyle in the 20th Century, is on its way out. Just as a generation decided it no longer needed a telephone that was hard-connected to a copper wire, an even larger group of people is starting to realize it doesn’t really require a 4000-pound piece of steel in its driveway, used less than an hour a day, almost exclusively by one occupant, and propelled by a death-dealing fuel. Mass transit, car sharing, ride sharing, and micro-rentals – all coordinated with mobile devices, combined with small urban commuter vehicles, bicycling, and even walking, are rapidly eroding our old concept of personal transportation.

Of course, this concept is not lost on the auto companies. Ford CEO Alan Mulally has been talking about the company’s repositioning itself as a “transportation company” for some time.

But is that possible? Isn’t Ford’s profit structure tied to selling its customers new Fords every couple of years? Ford’s stock is trading at about $14 per share, about one-third of its all-time high. Perhaps it’s poised for a rebound, but I’m not buying.

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