In the future, cars may be free! They may also be illegal to drive.

Technology is changing the way we live our lives in dramatic ways, it’s also displacing many businesses and tools we once found useful. A few years ago I had a couple of automotive prognostications that seem to be coming to fruition.

  • Automotive data will be more valuable than a car itself! Auto makers might in fact give away cars for free in exchange for your personal data that they can then monetize.
  • In the future, it will be illegal to drive a car (at least in big cities). The reason for this is that autonomous/computerized cars will be much safer. And, autonomous vehicles will likely be much more efficient, reducing traffic congestion.

The future of automobiles may be free cars

In a recent CBS report on data-driven cars, they illustrate my first point listed here in great detail. For example, vehicles are increasingly coming connected to the internet (just one aspect of the ‘Internet of Things.”) and will know so much about the driver and occupants, such what you’re listening to, where you shop most frequently, what kind of coffee you like, etc. Privacy continues to be eroded in lieu of convenience, and this is a big boon for advertisers, insurance companies, and of course, auto makers.


 According to CBS News, carmakers are rushing to turn your vehicle’s data into a new revenue stream, selling your location information, and, one day, information from the cars’ on-board cameras and sensors that could be bought by mapping companies or apps that monitor traffic conditions. Just like the recent Facebook revelations about all the data they are collecting from users, most drivers have no idea how much data is being collected from their newer model cars. Everything is being monitored and tracked, from the navigation, lights, brakes to the windshield wipers. As many as 100 accessories/points are generating data and then being sent back to the automaker. Some of these vehicles can process up to 25 gigabytes of data every hour. Cars are now full blown computers on wheels.

As the automotive industry transitions from making money on hardware to software, I think it is highly likely that inexpensive cars could be provided to consumers at a subsidized price, if not for free (in exchange for data). What do you think about this possible change in transportation? Good, bad, indifferent? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Mike Shubic

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Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.

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