Driverless cars may sound like a technological pipe dream straight out of a Jetsons cartoon, but consumers could actually be seeing them out on the road sooner than expected.
Not only are many American consumers concerned about how this will affect their time on the road, but many are wondering how these new vehicles could affect the auto industry as a whole. According to new research by Barclays, the future of car sales isn’t looking too bright if driverless cars become accessible.
In the past few years, the U.S. auto industry has made substantial improvements since its downturn during the Recession. Consumer confidence has played a big role: as more dealerships and manufacturers began offering more vehicle information online, almost every car buyer (94%) has used the internet to research a car before purchasing it.
It isn’t too surprising that consumers aren’t as confident in driverless cars, but as Bloomberg Business and The Motor Report both note, the economic effect of autonomous cars could actually be more worrisome.
According to the Barclays report titled “Disruptive Mobility,” analysts predict that self-driving cars could bring down U.S. car sales by as much as 40% over the next 25 years.
One analyst working with Barclays has stated it’s likely that almost half of all families in urban regions will become one-car households, and car-sharing programs will become more popular. Because autonomous cars could be programmed to drive passengers who are unable to drive, it’s estimated that one self-driving car could replace up to nine traditional cars.
Overall, it’s possible that car sales in the U.S. could drop by about 60% in the next couple of decades, numbering around 9.5 million sales per year.
Safety concerns aside, this drastic change could hurt manufacturers and dealerships just as much as the recent Recession. With less demand, manufacturers will have to cut production — and jobs — substantially.
Although Ford Motor Co. has not commented on the report, General Motors Co. has stated that it’s confident the company will be able to adapt to autonomous vehicles.