There is evidence that Uber is destroying the demand for cars

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Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Amazon Prime Video

LONDON – Is Uber destroying the car business?

We have known for a while that Uber is destroying the taxi business. And you have probably heard your city-based friends wondering whether they can rely on Uber instead of buying a new car.

Now we are seeing anecdotal evidence that Uber may actually be reducing the total demand for new private cars. Uber might be doing to cars what the internet did to newspapers, in other words.

Here is what we are seeing:

Car ouput SMMT

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SMMT

car registrations

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Pantheon Macronomics
    The growth in UK consumer auto financing has gone into a sharp decline, even though other forms of consumer credit are still rising.

car finance 1

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Bank of England

There are knock-on effects in other industries, too.

Medallion Financial Corp stock

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Google

Since the widespread arrival of Uber, all these indicators are heading south. There are currently about 40,000 Uber drivers in the UK. The UK car industry makes about 150,000 cars a month for domestic consumption, so the available supply of Uber drivers is equal to about 26% of the output of new cars. That compares apples to oranges of course, because one Uber driver can ferry multiple passengers.

None of this is proof. But it is tough to see where growth in private cars is going to come from in a world where a cheap ride is only 4 minutes away.