The autonomous car has been at the center of many discussions over the past year or so when it comes to technology and the future of the automotive world. While we continue to look at self-driving cars from the driver’s and owner’s perspective, we’re missing out on a more crucial aspect of the industry itself, the economy and it’s profits that come along with vehicles. There’s the possibility that millions if not billions of dollars are at stake with the arrival of autonomous cars, and this could have a devastating effect on the entire industry, from car companies to the after market part suppliers.

When we discuss self-driving cars, we’re not talking about hybrids or electric cars that were once laughed at by the general public. Yes, hybrids and cars like Tesla have changed, and continue to change the industry, but they’re not taking money away from key components in the auto market. Tesla owners still get their cars washed, car enthusiasts who may own hybrids like the BMW i8 may look into after market parts such as rims and suspension, but what would autonomous car owner’s do?

The way I see it, self-driving cars are like owning a robotic dog. Would you still go to Petco to buy chew toys for your “dog” if it were mechanical? The love you have for an animal cannot be compared to whatever connection you could try formulating with a robot full of wires. The same goes for a car. If the car does all the work, sets the speed limit, and does something on command, will you still have that same connection with that car as the one that’s currently sitting in your driveway? The answer is most certainly no.

You’ll probably be less likely to take your car to your trusted mechanic to tune the engine, lower the suspension, install new rims and exhaust, and add on any other customized parts that didn’t come with car when it left the factory. You’re also not going to take the time to wash your car, which means no more going to Auto Zone to buy wax, polish, or scratch removers because the connection that you have with the car you drive won’t be there when the car cares and drives for itself. This will all lead to lost money for businesses and corporations, and if there is one piece of knowledge I’ve learned in life, it’s that if the corporations stop receiving money from consumers, something needs to change ASAP.

Your car is a part of your life, whether you’re willing to admit it or not. The thoughts that run through your head while you pull up to your girlfriend’s house on your first date, the first time you ever got behind the wheel, or driving home full of excitement because you go that job you wanted are all moments that you’ll remember, and will most definitely remember the car you were driving at that time. Those are the moments that you’ll never forget that also make driving special. The car is not a living breathing thing, but it’s always there to get you from one place to another, and by being behind the wheel of that car everyday, you do become attached to it to a certain degree.

The automotive world, just as the pet industry, can sell off emotion. Your dad, who always talks about his muscle car, the memories, and the regret of getting rid of it, is why he either buys a new car to replace it, or finds the vin number, tracks it down, and buys that car back. That’s why cars are special, it’s in our DNA. To strip that away is going to have dire consequences on the auto market because consumers won’t care anymore, that love for your sports car won’t be there and the enjoyment of driving will be lost.

For the people who say, “I’d rather have my car drive for me so I can read Facebook statuses or text my friends”, shouldn’t be driving to begin with. If you would rather be reading why Suzy broke up with Matt, send a trivial text to some friend, or find out who won American Idol, you probably don’t deserve the car you’re driving right now.

There’s money at stake with this technology, money that car companies and even corporations haven’t taken into consideration yet. If consumer’s stop taking care of or modifying their cars because they’re autonomous, many businesses will cease to exist and the auto industry as we know it could self-implode. We’ll have to see how this all plays out in the next 10 years, but there is a lot at stake and risks that many people seem to be overlooking.

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