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The rise of autonomous vehicles is set to be the biggest shake up that the auto industry has seen in a long time. While the technology still has a lot of flaws at the moment, it’s improving rapidly and most estimates suggest that autonomous cars will be the norm in the next few decades. There is a lot of speculation about how that is going to change the way that we own and drive cars, but one thing that people aren’t talking about so much is car customization. 

At the moment, the aftermarket car customization industry is growing as people are keeping their cars for longer and there are more options for buying custom parts online. Platforms like Youtube also means that it’s easier than ever for people to watch tutorials and learn how to put these parts in themselves, so customization is on the rise. But what happens when autonomous cars begin to take over? 

There are so many different custom additions that you can make to your car. If you are mechanically minded, you can change almost any part on the engine and make additions to improve the performance of your car and make it more efficient. Cosmetic changes like private number plates, spoilers and body kits, or custom paint jobs are popular too. However, there has been a lot of speculation about autonomous cars and the companies that are selling these custom parts are worried about what the future may hold. 

The main question that people are asking right now is, will people own cars at all? The thinking is that, when cars are autonomous, there is no sense in leaving it in the car park all day while you are at work. Instead, it could drop you off and then head off to pick somebody else up. Instead of owning a car that is doing nothing for the majority of the day, you’ll just rent one when you need it, maybe using an app similar to Uber. There are a lot of benefits to this because it means fewer cars will be needed and that’s good for the environment. It also means that space for parking is massively reduced, and those areas can be used for better things. But if nobody owns their own car, that will mean that the car customization industry is effectively dead. 

However, it’s important to remember that people enjoy car ownership. Adding custom parts to your car and modifying the way that it looks isn’t just about performance. It’s a hobby and it’s not likely that people will just drop that overnight. While some people won’t want to own a car, a lot of people still will. Autonomous cars will probably have fewer opportunities for customization in the engine, but they may actually offer more choices when it comes to the interior. When you no longer have to worry about driving, you can spend more time on entertainment in the car and so customization is likely to focus more on things like TV screens and stereo systems, rather than engine performance. Ford recently put a patent on a table set up for autonomous cars, suggesting that companies are already looking into this new area of leisure customization in autonomous cars. 

Only time will tell whether the car customization will be killed by autonomous vehicles, but like all other technological revolutions throughout history, it’s more likely that they will adapt and the way that we see customization will change.  

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