Autonomous vehicle sales to surpass 33 million annually in 2040

More than 33 million autonomous vehicles will be sold globally in 2040, a substantial increase from the 51,000 units forecast for the first year of significant volume in 2021, according to the latest autonomous vehicle sales forecast from analyst firm IHS Markit.

autonomous vehicles

Key market dynamics influencing growth are accounted for in the report. The rapid convergence of autonomous driving and mobility services such as ride-hailing is a central driver of early deployment and growth.

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

Mobility-as-a-Service will first bring this technology to the masses before individual ownership of autonomous vehicles enters the picture.

“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, and IHS Markit forecasts estimate nearly 1 million units will be sold in 2025 across shared fleets and individually owned cars.”

Significant ongoing investment in transportation technology by OEMs, suppliers, mobility service providers and technology companies contributes to earlier deployment timelines, while dedicated mobility service brands within many automakers contributes to higher volumes of autonomous vehicles in the forecast.

“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.”

Additionally, an increasing number of governments around the world contemplate phasing out or disincentivizing gas-powered vehicles in favor of hybrids and electric vehicles, and as OEM efforts toward vehicle electrification continue, it’s logical that air quality in cities should improve.

“Mobility-as-a-Service is a boon to autonomous driving, and it will help prove and improve the technologies while allowing the industry to reimagine the relationship between the car, the driver and the user experience,” Carlson said.

Juliussen added, “As operational areas expand, miles traveled and the business opportunity increase considerably. Business decisions — battery electric vehicle versus hybrid, how to deploy cyber security, data privacy and monetization — will become even bigger differentiators than they are today.”

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