Story by Ryan Dearth, owner of Ryan Dearth Photography in Denver, Colorado. He recently attended Ford’s Annual Conference, Further with Ford, on Wake and Wander’s behalf to check in on how the changing auto industry is affecting the world of travel.
As globalization increases and the world population explodes, the mobility of people becomes an even more important issue. According to projections, we should expect to see 9 billion people on the planet driving 4 billion cars by 2050, as opposed to the 7 billion driving 1 billion cars now. Put it that way, and it makes total sense that automakers would have a vested interest in preparing for it.
One trend that we see is the movement of people to more densely populated areas. Logically, large cities with more urban sprawl (e.g. Los Angeles) have far more trouble with mobility than cities in closed spaces that force vertical growth (e.g. New York). Ford’s answer to this is their investment in technology to allow communication between vehicles. Shared navigation and velocity information could revolutionize traffic-flow and personal safety, and would increase efficiency across a number of traffic related systems.
Ford also shows support of companies like Zipcar, which allows short-term car rentals (or car sharing as they call it) across large cities. Zipcar claims that every one of its cars takes at least 20 personally owned vehicles off the road, one reason why Ford linked up with them last year (also due to the fact that many Zipcar owners end up buying cars).
Zipcar is traditionally thought of as a service for locals, but those in major cities (and/or those currently using the service) should not overlook its travel significance. Members are granted access to the entire fleet, not just the city in which they reside. Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington D.C. are all cities that support Zipcar.
So, for example, a Zipcar member in New York can catch a flight up to Toronto for the weekend and utilize the car service as opposed to renting a car or paying for taxis. Nonmembers may want to compare the cost of using a traditional rental company with what Zipcar can offer. In most cities, you pay a one-time $25 application fee and an annual fee of approximately $60, then $7-$9/hour and $69-$72/day during the week and $8-$9/hour and $77-$80/day on Friday through Sunday, depending upon the car model. Gas, insurance and 180 miles are included.
I think that’s a cool aspect for travelers to consider, an outside-the-box way of thinking when it comes to making travel affordable. My friend recently rented a car in Denver for a week and it cost him almost $500, and he only drove it a few miles each day. Depending on your situation, you might find Zipcar to save you money with only one use.
A special thanks to Ford for not only putting on a great conference, but for continuing to make the cohesive shift in thinking to get away from the loose-footed, gas-guzzling industrial giant that was a child of the American Industrial Revolution to become a more modern and environmentally conscious company that’s preparing for the populated future of the world economy.