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How Will the Rise of Autonomous Cars Effect Longevity of My Current Car?

Even if you're not particularly a motoring enthusiast, you've probably seen plenty of news items on television and in the printed press over the last couple of years regarding driverless cars. Once the subject of science fiction, autonomous cars - as they're now often referred to - are now very much a reality, and they're being tested on tracks and even public roads all over the globe as you read this.

Whether you like the idea of autonomous vehicles or not, the technology is going to have a huge impact on the motor industry, the way we travel and pretty much life as a whole in the future. But if driverless cars are going to be available to buy soon, what effect are they going to have on the longevity of the vehicles we're driving right now?

Although they're still a little way away from going on retail sale to be driven on public roads, they've already had a massive effect on the cars you can buy today. The adaptive cruise control, blind-spot alert and automatic braking systems in today's cars weren't developed in isolation. In fact, all those and many more of the latest safety and driver-assist features have come about as part of the development of autonomous vehicle technology. You might not be driving a driverless car yet, but if your car is relatively new there's a good chance it's got some features that will be intrinsic to the autonomous cars we'll soon be seeing.

It's easy to think a huge shift such as the introduction of autonomous cars will render what we have today useless and unwanted when it finally happens. Thankfully, that's incredibly unlikely to be the case. Regardless of how amazing and life-changing driverless cars will undoubtedly be the changeover to them won't be happening overnight. Like any newly-introduced technology, it's going to be pretty expensive at first and out of the reach of many buyers. Obviously, autonomous cars will get cheaper over time, but most of us are going to be driving ourselves in normal cars until that happens, and well beyond then as well.

There are really two types of cars to consider when weighing-up what will happen to today's models when driverless cars become commonplace; potential future classics and everything else. If you have something now that's a little bit special, it's always going to be wanted by someone and the introduction of autonomous driving is likely to make such vehicles even more desirable as time goes by. On the other hand, if you have a fairly ordinary mass-produced car, the chances are you'll have sold it long before autonomous vehicles take over the market. Even if you hang on to it for the next decade or longer, as long as it's not a candidate for the scrapyard, it's still going to have some sort of market for it.

Autonomous cars are coming, and they're probably going to on our roads sooner than many people might imagine. However, the car you're driving now isn't going to become obsolete anytime soon; you can rest assured of that. Think for a moment about the automatic gearbox. That in itself was a very early step on the road towards autonomous driving as it takes away the need for a driver to change gear. Despite being introduced many, many decades ago, how many of today's cars are only available as an automatic, and how much of an effect has the invention of the automatic gearbox had on the value or desirability of manual cars?

7 September 2016

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