The Sharing Economy and Autonomous Driving Vehicles

From 2023 and beyond

Prior to 2020 most economics experts felt that self drive and sharing economy would mix like oil and water. In other words, they wouldn’t get along unless shaken in a frenzy. And that frenzy happened with the Pandemic. That medical emergency turned economic models and beliefs topsy-turvy. This means that from 2023 and beyond, the sharing economy will become more and more dependent on self driving vehicles for service and profit.

Specifics, please.

What economists now predict will happen more frequently is that gig economy workers will find it necessary to reject traditional models of transportation for services, products, and profit. Owning a car is becoming increasingly beyond the reach of many in the younger age demographics.  Ages twenty up to thirty-five find they do not have the credit rating needed to buy a reliable truck or car from a dealership. And the time spent looking for so-called bargains online and in-person is counter-productive to getting a business up and running.

One answer, of course, is to contract transportation needs out to a third party. Amazon has found this business niche to be an outstanding source of new profits. So far they have not been charging too much to deliver products and/or passengers for their clients. It boils down to about a third of each service charge. Products that are in high demand, such as prepared meals, and, where allowed, tobacco products and alcohol, have given sharing economy entrepreneurs a healthy profit. Even though they own no vehicles themselves but rely on Amazon, and other conglomerates, to do the delivering themselves. Clothing, shoes, books, toys, and small appliances, can also be sourced by a single person working as their own company and then delivered through a third party with enough profit margin to make it economically viable.

But . . . 

Word on the street is that Amazon and other big transport players are planning huge increases later in 2023. Most estimates say they will double their current carrying charges. And being quasi-monopolies, they can get away with it. However, a new paradigm is percolating through the entrepreneurs in the sharing economy. It’s a simple concept that goes back to the agricultural cooperatives of the 19th century. Back then, no one small farmer could afford to buy a tractor and the other farm equipment needed to plant, maintain, and harvest a crop. So farmers formed cooperatives to buy equipment that they would share with each other. 

This is happening with small businesses today. They pool their resources to buy an autonomous driving truck to make their deliveries. Or even a fleet of drones.

So far the results have been uneven. But the smart money is on self driving vehicles taking over nearly all of the food deliveries within the next five years. As well as personal transport that is currently handled by Lyft and Uber.

It remains to be seen

However it remains to be seen if the federal government will allow this kind of cooperative movement to flourish unmolested. Various federal agencies are taking a long hard look at auto-driving vehicles and their safety. Will businesses be allowed to buy in on one semi to do their deliveries without too much strangling red tape? The smart money is hedging their bets. Amazon may yet win out on this one. Or small share economy players may get a break from Uncle Sam. It remains to be seen.