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The Most Serious Threat Facing the Auto Industry? Carpooling

IN UNDER TWO years, app-powered carpooling has become mainstream. UberPOOL rides now account for 20 percent of all Uber rides worldwide, according to Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends report, which came out this morning. That figure would appear to justify the anxiety plaguing so many automakers today: people don’t want to own cars. They’re just interested in getting a ride.

You’ve heard of the deals. GM invested in Lyft. Toyota and Uber struck a strategic partnership. Volkswagen poured millions of dollars into the Israeli ride-hail startup Gett. Apple invested a massive $1 billion in the Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi. It just goes to show how much tech envy these traditional carmakers now have—and how badly tech companies want to get into cars. To get around, your own car is now hardly your only option. What’s more, with self-driving cars under active development by several tech companies—including Google, Tesla, and Uber itself—automakers are scrambling to stay relevant. Turns out they should be.

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