Artificial Intelligence

Autonomous driving: peak car to arrive as early as 2031?

5th December 2019
Lanna Cooper

Autonomous driving technologies are disrupting the business models for the traditional auto industry. In the past decade, we have seen tech giants like Google and Baidu, as well as mobility service companies such as Uber and Didi joining the race with car companies to shape the future mobility system. Autonomous mobility can become a $1.4tn market by 2040 in terms of car sales.

When considering the additional revenue from autonomous mobility services, the total market value for autonomous cars and robotaxis can reach $2.5tn per year by 2040, according to the recent IDTechEx research 'Autonomous Cars and Robotaxis 2020-2040'.

The research projects that autonomous driving technologies will accelerate the arrival of peak car sales, in 2031. This points towards a gigantic root-and-branch transformation of the automotive industry in the coming decades.

Autonomous driving could accelerate the arrival of peak car, in other words, the end of mass private-car ownership. In the past decade, shared mobility service companies such as Uber, Lyft and Didi have been disrupting the travel market, but they haven't really solved problems such as traffic congestion and they have had little impact on private-car ownership.

Currently they are still more expensive than owning a private car, therefore they are at most competing with the taxi market. However, mobility services enabled by autonomous driving technologies, which allow fleet operators to eliminate the biggest operation cost - the human driver, will open a pathway towards a cheaper alternative to purchasing and owning a private car.

In the next two decades, Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) enabled by autonomous driving technologies will grow rapidly to meet the increasing travel demand and in the meanwhile gradually replace private driving. IDTechEx's latest report 'Autonomous Cars and Robotaxis 2020-2040' builds a detailed technology roadmap and a granular market forecast for autonomous mobility. It segments the market by level of autonomy, by shared and private ownership, and by the value of enabling hardware and software components such as lidar, radar, camera, computing platform, AI and software, cyber security, 5G and V2X, and so on.

It finds that the transformation towards autonomous mobility will not take place over night considering not only the technologies, but also the regulatory and public perception barriers. IDTechEx latest research includes a 20-year global car market forecast that models two scenarios - moderate and aggressive - based on our in-depth analysis of the future travel demand provided by private and shared cars. In a moderate scenario, shared autonomous cars could account for up to 4 trillion miles travelled on the road - about 30% of the total travel demand - by 2040, and global passenger car sales are expected to peak in 2031.

By 2040, global annual car sales will be just over 72 million units and private-owned cars will be around 48.8 million units, compared with 80 million units in 2018. This will trigger tremendous change for traditional automakers as profits are expected to shift from selling car assets to individuals towards mobility services that charge by the mile.

Auto OEMs are changing their business models from just car manufacturers to mobility service providers to capture more profits. Geely, for example, claims that by 2025, 1/3 of all Volvo cars will be autonomous and they will become not only the car manufacturer, but also the mobility service provider.

Autonomous driving requires a full technology stack of hardware such as sensors, computing platforms as well as non-hardware components including AI software and HD maps which are completely different from the traditional automotive approach.

IDTechex's latest report offers an in-depth analysis of key enabling technologies including lidars, radars, cameras, AI software, HD maps, teleoperation, cybersecurity, and 5G and V2X. Key technology trends as well as market players are presented for each of these enabling technologies.

IDTechEx forecasts that the autonomous driving system market (the hardware and software that make the cars drive themselves) will be over $170bn annually by 2040, which provides enormous opportunities for multiple stakeholders across the autonomous mobility ecosystem.

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