No wonder, then, that Uber executives are toying with radical new ideas. Under one model, autonomous vehicles could be established as a new asset class. Vehicles would be owned via what some are nicknaming “Fleits” — or car fleet investment trusts — a new twist on the concept of Reits, the real estate investment trusts that own $3tn of property assets in the US alone. Investors in a Fleit would get a share of a fast-growing sector, perhaps tax-incentivised as with a Reit, and a return of, say, 6 per cent, funded from the cash flow generated by rides. So far, so neat.
But just like Uber’s current shareholder base, investors in a Fleit would have to take a big leap of faith.