Autonomous vehicles could cut car sales drastically

Autonomous vehicles could cut car sales drastically

In the next 25 years, as autonomous cars become the norm, annual vehicle sales could drop to just 9.5 million, says a new report by Barclays automotive analyst Brian Johnson. The downward trend is in line with a recent report from the University of Michigan.

The main reason for the low sales forecast: There will no longer be a need for everyone of driving age in a household to own a vehicle because family members can more easily share one vehicle. The Barclays report estimates than more than half of cars in the U.S. are used for commuting to and from work and for dropping children off at school. Those activities could be shared by a single driverless vehicle. Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft could also lessen the need for vehicle ownership.

Once autonomous cars are more widespread, Johnson sees four categories of vehicles: Traditional vehicles owned by rural residents or commuters; –family autonomous vehicles” owned by one person and shared by family members; –shared autonomous vehicles” that are –robot taxis” summoned by smartphone; and –pooled shared autonomous vehicles” with multiple riders, like a bus.

Johnson predicts that the Detroit Three will still sell pickups and vans, but they wonêt do as well in the markets for family autonomous vehicles and shared vehicles. A report from the University of Texas said that each shared autonomous vehicle could replace nine traditional ones.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said in Japan this month that Nissan would have a fully autonomous vehicle by 2020 but that the necessary regulations might not be in place by then. And laws are not the only obstacle.

“That is the car of the future,” said Ghosn. “But the consumer is more conservative. That makes us cautious.”

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