Like Driving? You’re Gonna Have to Move Here

The walls are closing in on your second-favorite activity. The remedy? Bust through ‘em.

byNelson Ireson|
Like Driving? You’re Gonna Have to Move Here

If you’re a gearhead, the best places to live right now are big cities. That might seem counterintuitive, considering the traffic congestion and expense of city life, but the cars go where the people—and the money—goes. Just look at Manhattan’s Classic Car Club, Los Angeles’ Cars & Coffee scene or The Drive’s, uh, garage.

But that’s going to change, according to the latest McKinsey & Co. report on the future of the automobile. Those bumpkins living out in the sticks? They’ll be the ones in Car Mecca, and all you jerks living in the cities will be shit out of luck.

“By 2030, the car market in New York will likely have much more in common with the market in Shanghai than with that of Kansas,” says the report.

The document goes on to note that regulations and restrictions on cars will drive urban vehicles in a very particular direction—away from private ownership of fun-to-drive sports cars, gnarly off-roaders and other trophies of enthusiasts and toward shared econoboxes that drive themselves, sip electrons and would never do anything so risky as raise a pulse, much less an eyebrow.

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“We expect to see vehicles that are purposely designed for sharing in urban areas, which can be small vehicles for single users and larger ones for groups,” Hans-Werner Kaas, director of McKinsey’s Automotive & Assembly division told The Drive. The explanation is simple, says Kaas. “We expect regulation around parking and access rights (high-occupancy lanes, restricted downtown areas, etc.) to be a high influence on what mobility and vehicles will look like in cities.”

According to the report, the city of the future will be populated with cars built specifically for “e-hailing” services (like Uber and Lyft), and shared-use services (like Car2Go). “The market for a car specifically built for e-hailing services—i.e., designed for high utilization, robustness, additional mileage and passenger comfort—would already be millions of units today; and this is just the beginning,” says the report.

While that might be fine for getting around during the daily grind—and hey, it probably beats the subway—that could mean car lovers will be forced out of the cities—if they want to drive their cars, at least.

A future where our prized vehicles are relegated to private tracks and static displays in garages? No, thanks.

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Fortunately, there’s an out. “Mobility in the city is more specific point-to-point and shorter distances,” says Kaas. “This model lends itself much better to shared and electric vehicles than the use cases in rural areas would.”

That means cities and towns outside the top 20 list would have much less incentive to restrict the types of cars individuals could own. And that’s on top of the federal CAFE standards that dictate gas mileage and future CO2 emissions legislation, which will tighten the noose even further. That ’67 Impala you love so much? Its days are numbered in Chicago, Miami and San Francisco. But it may yet be able to live out its golden years in places like Little Rock, Abilene or Reno—or places even more remote.

Even new cars in 2030 will still rely on the internal combustion engine, notes Kaas. “We feel that the combustion engine, especially if integrated in a hybrid-electric powertrain, will continue to have a substantial market share, especially for long-distance travel.”

And where is long-distance travel a must-have feature of any new car? The sticks, of course. So dump that midtown condo and grab yourself a country estate while you still can. Be a bumpkin. Your car—and perhaps your spirit—will thank you.