Planners Flounder with Fast Moving Disruptive Technologies

John Robertson


Carl Icahn has highlighted the disruptive potential of ride-broking services with a $100M investment in Lyft, a rival to Uber. At the same time, Google has received permission for more extensive testing of its driverless cars in California and for more limited testing in the UK. In developed countries, car owners use their vehicles for as little as 5% of the time they are available. The investment efficiency of cars falls further as rides are available on demand. Radical changes in behaviour and user preferences will be needed before travellers convert willingly to a pay-as-you-ride model, including one with driverless vehicles. Nonetheless, such rapidly proliferating disruptive possibilities illustrate why extrapolation of current usage patterns in so many areas will result in incorrect inferences about future needs. In this case, rising car usage may not be linked as closely to rising car production as it has been in the past. Future raw material demand estimates usually assume people will continue to use cars inefficiently. What happens to lithium or aluminium demand if car ownership falls while car usage continues to rise?

John Robertson is Chief Investment Strategist for PortfolioDirect a provider of resource sector investment stock ratings and portfolio strategies for mining and oil and gas investors. He has worked as a policy economist, corporate business...


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