When it comes to the auto industry the future is coming on at full speed.  Although I think its optimistic to think we will have self driving cars in 5 years, because of both technology and legal reasons, but in 10 I think we will see a large percentage of cars that can drive themselves on the road.  And this will have a huge impact on the practicality of the electric car, and will reduce the number of mechanics significantly.  Why?

One of the biggest reasons people do not buy electric cars is because of range and charging time. Even though Musk is make great strides to make it easier to own and operate an electric with his supercharging station and smart ranging software that will be updated in the current Tesla’s, there are still obstetrical in the way.  Currently, if I wanted an electric only car, I would have to live with around 100 mile or less range unless I buy a Tesla.  And even then, where I live I do not have the ability to put in a 220v charging station meaning it could take 8 plus hours to charge the car.

However, once cars are allowed to drive themselves, things will change in a big way.  Imagine your car takes you to work.  Once it drops you off, it will drive off and get charged by itself and then park itself.  The car will also do diagnostics on itself.  If anything on the car is starting to fail, it will take itself to the shop and have it looked at long before it become a larger problem thus reducing the need for more drastic repairs by letting problems fester and make more problems.  Also, as we move away from petrol motors and move to all electric, we will see a reduction in car maintenance as fewer moving parts need to be serviced. Need new tires?  The car will go get it itself. This will be ground breaking.  When you are done the car will come to you from a cheap if not free parking area, fully charged and ready to go.  Do not have 220v at home?  Don’t worry about it.  At night, when power is cheaper, it will drive itself when you sleep to power up.

Once cars are allowed to drive without a human driver, parking, traffic, breakdowns and range anxiety will be a thing of the past. The need to even know how to drive will drop.  Taxis (however taxis will be know by in 10 years) will autonomous and far cheaper then today.  Many people who live in urban area’s may not even bother owning a car in even higher numbers then we see today.

This utopia will not happen all at once.  Soon, laws will be passed that will allow autonomous driving in only certain places, at certain times on certain roads, but in time less restrictions will be imposed until the next level is reached with car can drive themselves, again with certain restrictions.  I can imagine a time in 5 years or sooner where those who work in a large corporate campus will be able to allow employees to have cars drive autonomously and take advantage of new capabilities I outlined above. I’m not sure how Mountain View will feel about this (although it might be a Sacramento decision) but I can see this happening on the Google campus… soon.