A new report from the market analysts at IHS Markit now proposes that more than 33 million self-driving vehicles will be sold around the world in 2040, following an initial influx of autonomous vehicles in 2019. During that first year, the firm posits that the vast majority of A.I.-piloted automobiles will probably be driven onto the road by companies in the mobility services industry. Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, as well as deliveries-based industry leaders, will according to IHS Markit, serve as an entry for those vehicles into the mainstream. Those industries are also expected to be the first to see vehicles specifically designed to go driverless, rather than being retrofitted onto more traditional vehicle platforms. By the numbers, IHS expects more than 51,000 units to sell over the course of 2021 followed by as many as 1 million units sold in 2025. Growth beyond that point will likely follow steadily increasing demand as dedicated autonomous vehicles begin and continue to permeate the more general consumer market.
The aggressive new timeline matches up with the overall goals of some automotive companies and conglomerates of companies that are currently working on building fully capable autonomous vehicles. However, it is decidedly more accelerated and optimistic, than others, with some estimating that 2021 will be the first year in which truly self-driving cars will be possible. However, IHS Markit has also presented a clear outline regarding where and when those vehicles will appear as well as how ubiquitous they will become in those regions. Moreover, the estimates do make sense given the increasing sense of urgency with which several countries and governments are approaching the incoming shift to autonomous mobility. For starters, the firm’s analysts postulate that the U.S. market will be the first to see autonomous vehicle sales. That estimate is based on efforts from companies like Waymo, Uber, and General Motors, which are expected to release autonomous vehicles to market in 2019 and to the general public by 2021. It is also centered around a new legislative approach from the U.S. government, focused on accelerating the development and production of self-driving automobiles through a more industry-friendly approach. In fact, IHS Markit expects that as many as 7.4 million of those vehicles will be sold per year by 2040.
China is expected to follow due to a slower implementation of regulation but is also expected to surpass the U.S. with as many as 14.5 million autonomous vehicle sales per year by 2040. The reason for that can presumably be attributed, at least in part, to the differences in population between the two countries. However, IHS says that it primarily comes down to the fact that there are already government-sanctioned A.I.-driven vehicle projects across the country in the mobility industry. Meanwhile, the general population within the region is also more trusting of the technology itself. On the other hand, the European market has been shown to favor technology-enhanced luxury automotive brands, which could help to offset the current regulations preventing the mobility services jumpstart that the other two regions will have. As a result of that, IHS predicts that there will be around 5.5 million self-driving vehicle sales per year by 2040 within Europe and that those will predominantly be personal vehicle purchases. Finally, other markets are expected to collectively lag behind but to eventually make up the remaining percentage of sales.