Report Predicts Autonomous Vehicles Will Reach 21 Million in Sales by 2035

IHS Automotive has doubled its forecast for the number of autonomous vehicles expected to be sold by 2035 with the U.S. taking the lead.

A recent wave of technology developments and investments in autonomous driving technologies, along with activity in various regulatory environments, brings the global forecast up to 21 million autonomous vehicle sales globally during 2035, a substantial increase from earlier estimates. Between now and 2035, IHS estimates that nearly 76 million vehicles with some level of autonomy will be sold globally.

The U.S. market will play a leading role, according to IHS Automotive. The company expects several thousand autonomous vehicles on U.S. road by 2020, with a rapid growth rate reaching nearly 4.5 million vehicles by 2035.

“It’s moving faster than we thought,” said IHS Automotive Director of Research Egil Juliussen. “Many things happened to really kick up the investment and the intensity of the auto industry getting in there to not let the high-tech industry dominate this.”

Recent investments and alliances include Lyft and General Motors developing self-driving Chevy Bolt EVs; Ford making a major investment in Palo Alto-based software company Pivotal to develop cloud-based software for alternative mobility services; and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Google partnering to produce autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

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The IHS Automotive report also cites Toyota last year also pledging to spend $1 billion to form a research institute focused on the artificial intelligence and robotics technology. Toyota also hired 16 employees from Massachusetts-based autonomous-vehicle company Jaybridge Robotics Inc.

Juliussen said the most growth of autonomous vehicles over the next 20 years is expected to come after 2025, with a 43 percent compound annual growth rate through 2035.

“The numbers really kick up between 2030 and 2035,” Juliussen said. “If we went further, it will be even steeper growth after that … 2035 is really when the technology is really ready to roll out for all types of uses.”

Japan and China are expected to play a key role in autonomous vehicle growth. Japan is likely to ramp up industry coordination and investment ahead of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, according to the report. Despite a later start in China, IHS Automotive forecasts more than 5.7 million vehicles sold in China in 2035 will be equipped with some level of autonomy, the single largest market for the technology.

The Detroit News