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54 M. Self-driving Cars on the Road in 2035: IHS

Jan 03, 2014 | By Quincy Liang

A new way getting from here to there is coming, though not just yet. According to a projection by IHS, a market research firm, global sales of self-driving cars will grow to almost 230,000 in 2025 and 11.8 million  in 2035, at which time there are expected to be 54 million of the cars on the road.

IHS believes that cars with no driver controls—that are fully autonomous—will hit the roads around 2030. The company also predicts that after 2050, nearly all vehicles in use are likely to be self-driving cars or commercial vehicles.

Autonomous cars have drawn the attention of the public during the last two years. Google Inc. has logged more than 500,000 miles on its fleet of self-driving research vehicles, while a handful of states have approved laws for testing such cars. The Michigan government recently passed legislation allowing the testing of self-driving cars, joining Florida, Nevada, and California, which have similar laws. Testing is also taking place in Pennsylvania without any special legislation.

Self-driving cars will account for 0.2% of all new-car sales in 2025, according to IHS—a figure that will rise to 9.2% in 2035. The firm forecasts that electronic technology will add US$7,000 to US$10,000 to the sticker price of a car in 2025, a figure that will drop to around US$5,000 in 2030 and about US$3,000 in 2035.

“There are several benefits of self-driving cars for society, drivers, and pedestrians,” said Egil Juliussen, principal analyst for infotainment and autonomous driver assisted systems at IHS Automotive. Juliussen co-authored the study with IHS Automotive senior ADAS analyst Jeremy Carlson. “Accident rates will plunge to near zero for SDCs, although other cars will crash into SDCs; but as the market share of SDCs on the highway grows, overall accident rates will decline steadily. Traffic congestion and air pollution per car should also decline because SDCs can be programmed to be more efficient in their driving patterns.”

Autonomous cars could save U.S. society hundreds of billions of dollars in the cost of traffic accidents and congestion, and boost productivity by allowing people to work in transit. But it could also cost millions of jobs involved in transporting goods and people, IHS said. If autonomous cars prove reliable, one day governments may not allow human drivers at all—since driver error accounts for more than 90% of the 32,000 traffic deaths and 2.2 million injuries annually in the United States.

IHS said that whatever some automakers might say, it does not expect any fully self-driving cars on the roads by 2020. It predicts, instead, that the first self-driving cars on the road will require a driver to monitor conditions at times, and that the cars will run in a kind of  “automatic pilot” mode.

The research firm said that North America is forecast to account for 29% of worldwide sales of self-driving cars with human controls and self-driving-only cars in 2035, or nearly 3.5 million vehicles, followed by China with 24%, or more than 2.8 million vehicles, and Western Europe with 20%, or 2.4 million vehicles.


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