In 2015, it's still perfectly normal to drive yourself in a fuel-powered car that you actually own. One day though, that concept will sound quaint.
With new technologies like Uber for car sharing, Tesla for electric vehicles and Google's driverless cars, the way in which we drive is rapidly transforming into something completely different. It's very possible in the near future people won't have any relationship with cars at all: not putting gas in them, not driving them, not owning them.
"I'm glad I'm retired if there are going to be driverless cars," said racing legend Mario Andretti in an interview with CNBC at Pocono Raceway, ahead of Sunday's IndyCar race. After taking me around the track for three "hot laps" that scared the hell out of me, Andretti chatted about the future of driving and the sport. "These poor guys are going to be out of a job" in reference to the current crop of racers—including his grandson Marco. "The human element needs to still be involved to have any value at all."
Roger Penske took a more optimistic approach about the changing landscape. "The great thing about Uber is somebody's got to sell them cars. So I'm going to make a knock on their door." In addition to owning top teams in several racing series including NASCAR and IndyCar, Penske has a stake in many auto-related business, including car dealerships (PAG) and truck rental operations.
For all the discussion on truck fleets that might not need drivers, Penske didn't think it would go fully automated. "I think you'll always have someone sitting in the car, but they can do other things ... things that you can't do today." He did say "the safety aspects of driverless cars are important" over the long term.
On the topic of electric vehicles, Penske wasn't as immediately excited. While he did say, "Tesla has done an amazing job," he countered with, "Today it's all about total cost of ownership, and today total cost of ownership doesn't drive electric vehicles." He thought big changes would come soon, "over the next three to four years," and that "it's going to be driven politically ... by people wanting to have less emissions."