Owning A Car Gets You Nowhere
“They are born, then put in a box; they go home to live in a box; they study by ticking boxes; they go to what is called “work” in a box, where they sit in their cubicle box; they drive to the grocery store in a box to buy food in a box; they go to the gym in a box to sit in a box; they talk about thinking “outside the box”; and when they die they are put in a box. All boxes, Euclidian, geometrically smooth boxes.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Is this the beginning of the end? Are we finally witnessing the end of a century-long love affair between mankind and the modern day car? Or are we in the midst of witnessing an evolution?
Having worked in the mobility space for the past 6 years, I would say anyone’s guess is as good as mine. One thing is for sure, and that is our obsession with speed and moving fast has never been more apparent. In this millennial age, anything slower than instant is simply not good enough. We wake up and instantly browse our social media pages to consume new content that is constantly being uploaded and shared. More than 100 million posts are shared on Instagram every day and that equates to more than a thousand posts being shared every single second. No traditional media company in the world can generate new content at that rate. We’re living in a world where the on-demand industry has taught us to shun unnecessary wait times and embrace everything which can offer instant fulfilment. That is the main reason why I believe that the private car ownership model will soon be a thing of the past. For any of us who have ever tried buying a car, we know the process is far from “instant”.
Perhaps we owe it to Mark Zuckerberg for eternalising the mantra of “move fast, break things”. However, let’s face it, we are all a bunch of self-serving, impatient homosapiens seeking to satisfy our very next whim without having to wait. The question we should be asking is why can’t buying a car be instant and as simple as posting a photo on Instagram? Ideally, it should be and could be, but once again made almost impossible by the multiple stakeholders and vested interests.
In Malaysia, the car purchase process involves the buyer, seller, bank, insurance company, and road transport department. That is 5 different stakeholders just to ensure that you can rightfully own an asset that loses half its value within 3-4 years. Furthermore, how many Instagram likes can you get from posting a photo of an entry-level car vs. photos of your trip to Bali or Santorini? My guess is probably way fewer for the former – and in the new age where social validation and instant gratification is the new currency for the millennial generation, buying a car is one of the worst investments you can make. Instead, why not embrace other mobility services that give you choices and options rather than be stuck behind the wheel. If you do need to drive, at least you have the flexibility to pick the right car for the right occasion.
So my advice to all the millennials out there – don’t buy a car, use the money to invest in a stock which produces a product that you can’t live without whether it is Netflix or Facebook or Google and live by the YOLO mantra. Ultimately #boughtanewcar only has 572 posts vs. #uber which has over 2.8 million posts on Instagram. Let the millennials decide, shall we?
Leon Foong is the CEO of SOCAR Malaysia, a car-sharing platform that seeks to make driving more accessible to people living in Malaysia by using technology to make cars more shareable and in the process driving up utilisation of cars across the country.
Prior to venturing into the car-sharing space, Leon was the General Manager of Uber Malaysia and was responsible for introducing ride-sharing to Malaysia, bringing reliable on-demand peer-to-peer transportation to over more than 15 cities.
Educated in Oxford with a first-class B. A. in Economics and Management, Leon is obsessed with solving problems and using technology to change the way people experience their cities and interact within their communities.
SOCAR Malaysia is a car-sharing startup that aims to change the landscape of Malaysian transportation by bringing in a new era of *multiflex mobility. Prior to launching in Malaysia, SOCAR Korea has brought car-sharing to millions of South Koreans and grown its fleet to almost 9000 cars.
With its mobile application, SOCAR will make car-sharing convenient for everyone by allowing members to book and unlock cars on its platform with just a few taps.Over the next 12 months, the company aims to grow their fleet to over 2,500 cars and bring the convenience and joy of car-sharing to hundreds of thousands of members across Malaysia.
*Multiflex: Getting around using the multiple modes of transport available to us without having to rely on private car ownership while maintaining the flexibility of being able to drive whenever you want.