Home Data & Expense Autonomous vehicle sales projected to reach 33 million annually by 2040.

Autonomous vehicle sales projected to reach 33 million annually by 2040.

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich.—Global demand for autonomous vehicles could grow to as much as 33 million units annually by 2040, according to market researchers IHS Markit. The projection is up several hundred-fold from the 51,000 units forecast for 2021.

The U.S. will lead the world in initial deployment, early adoption and production of autonomous vehicles as early as 2019, IHS Markit said, while Europe and China are expected to begin adding considerable volume from 2021 onward.

“Mobility as a service” will introduce this technology to the masses before individual ownership of autonomous vehicles enters the picture, the Southfield, Mich.-based company said.

“The first autonomous vehicle volumes—beyond retrofit test vehicles—will arrive in 2019 through driverless mobility services,” said Egil Juliussen, director of automotive technology research at IHS Markit.

Volumes will surpass 51,000 units in 2021 when personally owned autonomous cars reach individual buyers for the first time, IHS Markit said, and could hit 1 million units by 2025 across shared fleets and individually owned cars.

IHS cites “significant ongoing investment in transportation technology” by original equipment manufacturers, suppliers, mobility service providers and technology companies as key factors in its growth forecast.

The analysis also reflects partnerships and ecosystems forming around technology and services that will help the industry address the complex challenges around the evolution of autonomous mobility as well as a breakdown of Levels 4 and 5 of the industry-standard Society of Automotive Engineers Levels of Automation.

“Diversity of choice in personal mobility and autonomous driving technologies are both evolving more quickly than ever, but their convergence will have the greatest impact,” said Jeremy Carlson, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit.

“Autonomous mobility services can deliver newfound personal freedom to the young, old, disabled and others without reliable transportation for everyday needs” he added, “but the benefits don’t have to stop there. Fleet operators in big cities who better understand the lower operational costs of battery electric vehicles are more likely to employ them to drive higher amounts of vehicle and passenger miles traveled.”

At the same time, governments around the world are contemplating phasing out or disincentivizing gas-powered vehicles in favor of hybrids and electric vehicles.

IHS researchers contend the U.S. market will see the first autonomous vehicle sales, as individual states—and eventually the nation as a whole—are expected to adopt an industry-friendly regulatory approach.

The first uses likely will be in mobility service fleets, which will provide early hands-on experience with the technology and help reduce consumer skepticism.

U.S. volumes of AVs are expected to reach 7.4 million units per year in 2040.

While the U.S. is expected to be at the leading edge of adoption, IHS Markit sees China—where mobility services already have taken hold in many Chinese cities—as the largest potential market, with demand for up to 14.5 million units a year by 2040 foreseen.

In Europe, regulations are seen as an obstacle to the same ride-hailing services that will drive initial deployment in the U.S., but European markets are especially strong in technology-rich luxury brands. As a result, the balance in Europe will tip toward personally owned AVs over driverless mobility fleets, amounting to 5.5 million autonomous vehicle sales annually in 2040.

The study, “Autonomous Vehicle Sales Forecast and Report,” costs $8,750.

For more information: Michelle Culver, 248-728-7496 or michelle.culver@ihsmarkit.com.

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