Although it seems as if the automotive industry is preparing for a seismic shift, a new study from the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) predicts it will be decades before electrification and self-driving cars become widespread.
The raw numbers speak for themselves. The study predicts Level 4 and Level 5 self-driving cars will only make up 4 percent of new vehicles by 2030, though its prediction rises to 55 percent of new-vehicle sales by 2040. Still, almost half of new cars will not drive themselves, per the research.
And on the electrification front, only 8 percent of new-car sales will feature battery-electric and alternative propulsion systems by 2030.
The study also looked to explain the mass investments in mobility, electrification and self-driving technology. In order for automakers to carve out a stake for the future, they must invest now. It’s precisely what we’re seeing from nearly every automaker, including General Motors.
Even if the effects aren’t widespread for three decades, automakers must lay the foundation for changing times today.
“While the technology to electrify and automate vehicles will take decades to proliferate, automakers and suppliers must invest now to have a stake in the future of the transformed automotive industry,” Carla Bailo, CEO of CAR, said.
Additionally, the study also predicted that automakers will begin to slow investments in alternative propulsion and autonomy, especially if the new-car market begins to slow and sales continue to plateau or even drop.
“Will the auto industry continue to spend at the current pace through a downturn in the business cycle? If recent history is any guide, they will not — at least not at the current speed and scale of investment,” Bailo added.
As for the staple internal-combustion engine, it’s not going away anytime soon. At least not in the U.S.
The study’s survey results show 18 percent of Americans prefer electrified powertrains over gasoline engines. It’s a stark contrast to Chinese respondents, in which 56 percent preferred electrified powertrains to gasoline engines.
And on the ride-sharing front, many Americans don’t consider it a viable alternative to personal vehicle ownership, or even an alternative to public transportation such as buses or subways.
The future may seem more distant than we once thought, and even then, emerging technologies still need to find acceptance. Granted, these are predictions and don’t account for all unforeseen happenings.