By on February 27, 2014

Ferrari 550 Pininfarina Barchetta

After a century of motoring, and with several factors rapidly changing the landscape, analysts are forecasting the peak of global automotive growth to come sometime in the 2020s.

The Detroit News reports that as more people join the exodus out of suburbia into major cities, along with other factors such as pollution, gridlock, build quality and the adoption of alternative modes of transportation — particularly among younger generations who cannot afford a car of their own — auto sales around the globe will peak somewhere around 100 million in the next decade, according to several analysts such as IHS Automotive.

Further, 44 percent of Americans surveyed by Intel said they would prefer to live in big cities with driverless cars able to keep traffic flowing smoothly, while one out of 10 households have no car at all.

The coming upheaval is prompting automakers to consider their place in the new scene, where red barchetta owners outrun silver bubble cars, and where car ownership gives way to car sharing. Tim Ryan, vice chairman of markets and strategy for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, puts the future of motoring into perspective:

The key question is: Do you sell cars or do you sell mobility? If you ignore these megatrends, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant.

With an expected 25 percent to 50 percent increase urban dwelling over the next decade, and 9 billion expected to live in urban areas 25 years from now, the groundwork is being prepared to meet this coming challenge. Gartner Inc. auto analyst Thilo Koslowski predicts urbanites to use ride- and car-sharing services such as Lyft and Car2Go to commute to their destination, with autonomous cars picking up their passengers, and using GPS and other communication technologies to deliver them safely.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

44 Comments on “Analysts: Peak Car To Arrive By 2020s...”


  • avatar

    If/when autonomous cars arrive, that will greatly reduce the need for people to own cars. There will be far fewer cars on the roads–and far less traffic. It will be great for city life.

    I don’t know how it will work in the exurbs and the more sparsely populated parts of the US (and the world). I wouldn’t be surprised if people in the wilds of places like Idaho and Wyoming will still need their own vehicles.

    Of course, I hasten to add that I much prefer doing the driving myself. I like to think that I always will, but I hesitate to try to predict my feelings 20-30 years from now, when I will be superannuated.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      I am not so sure about the driving reduction. Autonomous vehicles make it easy to drive/be driven more. Longer commutes, longer weekend trips – they all become low hassle with a personal pod.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if traffic actually goes up with autonomous vehicles, then drops down again as the penetration of autonomous vehicles increases and they begin to manage traffic flow.

      • 0 avatar

        In cities, an unexpectedly high percentage of driving (but I can’t recall the # offhand) takes place when people are looking for parking.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Great point. In urban areas, formerly known as cities, parking spaces, parking lots and parking garages, as well as personal off-street parking, seem to be the unmentioned factor in the equation.

      • 0 avatar
        Kinosh

        Cities won’t really change in terms of their driving. Speed limits will still be low for other road users. Cars are also *big*. The problem in cities is space efficiency.

        Even with an autonomous vehicle, the act of stopping/speeding up from only 20mph (~10m/s) at .2gs (to maintain passenger comfort) requires nearly 75 feet of “runway”.

        Chicago, New York, and LA have heavy rail systems because you literally cannot transport the number of people in them even if you used every square inch for roadways and all 24 hours in the day to do it.

        Autonomous cars will be most important in lower density areas. Autonomous transit vehicles (again, because of *space* considerations) will be an interesting use as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      If driverless cars make driving easier, then one would expect to see them produce more driving.

      Traffic is like a gas. If you provide opportunities to generate traffic, then people will figure out ways to produce it. Traffic congestion is effectively a form of inflation — when the product is cheap and available, people consume too much of it, which requires them to queue in order to get it.

      • 0 avatar
        Kinosh

        Driverless cars can make auto transport easier to a small extent. It’s the difference in efficiency between a personal automobile and a taxi.

        Perhaps you mean congestion is a form of rationing? I’ve never heard of that economic concept being called inflation before.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          When goods are priced too low, queues result.

          Queues are effectively an inflation measure. If the good cost more, then there would be less demand for it, and therefore no waiting. The wait is the price that you pay to substitute for the money that you would otherwise be paying if it was priced to equilibrium.

          This was evident in the Soviet Union, when people queued for everything. The money was so worthless that people would prefer to wait for hours to get rid of it in exchange for shoddy goods, rather than hold onto it.

          Traffic is likewise a pretty shoddy good, yet people consume it because they would rather pay with their time than with their money.

          • 0 avatar
            Kinosh

            We’ve pretty well decided that the monetary cost of transport will be low. The next step is to determine how to deliver it. My argument is that the personal auto is a poor transit choice in dense areas due to low space utilization.

            By having a computer drive for you, it may reduce the annoyance of driving in a car, but the small amount of increased travel time tolerated will be eaten up by others doing the same thing. And the total throughput will probably not be increased as much as you think (I’ve seen models of 2000 car/hour roadways *completely* collapse when capacity is exceeded by 2%).

            Following my argument, to maximize the number of people you can transport in dense places at the price they are willing to pay (either via time, money, or both), the personal auto remains a poor choice.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Another way to look at the scenario that I presented is that people don’t place a high value on their time. They may claim that they do, but their actions betray their words.

            Traffic congestion is the price that people pay for living where they want to live (and perhaps to avoid living where they don’t want to live.) I don’t see how driverless cars would impact that dynamic, and it simply takes a certain amount of time to travel from place to place, particularly when there are many others who wish to do the same thing at the same time.

          • 0 avatar

            > Following my argument, to maximize the number of people you can transport in dense places at the price they are willing to pay (either via time, money, or both), the personal auto remains a poor choice.

            What PCH is essentially saying is that time is better wasted in a driverless car doing other stuff, so it would drastically reduce its “price”. This is the rational self-interest view.

            What you’re saying is that too many people in cars don’t work, which is also correct. This is the systemic view.

            The way “free market” frameworks like ours are supposed to work is by aligning rational self-interested methods with systemic needs, and it looks like self-driving cars are a shiitty way of doing this.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            What I was trying to say is that people may gripe about traffic, but in practice, they prefer sitting in traffic to the alternatives and don’t assign the economic price to it that you would expect if you relied upon them to tell you.

            Making it easier to drive, if the population is high enough in a given area, will just produce more driving. Reducing the level of congestion simply invites some of those who stayed away to join in, so the benefits of new infrastucture don’t materialize.

            Toll road operators are figuring this out the hard way. Build a toll road parallel to a free road, and the toll road is unlikely to pay for itself because most drivers will simply suck it up and sit in the congestion.

            Rightly or wrongly, they decide that that the marginal cost of faster travel is too expensive, and they sit in the tailback. The toll road in that case is a luxury good, and people find other priorities for their money. They’d rather pay with their time than with their money, even if they told the market researchers beforehand how much they hated traffic and would pay for a faster trip.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Pch101 said “[A]nother way to look at the scenario that I presented is that people don’t place a high value on their time. They may claim that they do, but their actions betray their words.”

            If a recent study that I read was accurate, the average American spends 4 1/2 years of their life driving or being driven in a passenger vehicle, and full 18% of that is while being stuck in traffic jams or not moving at all.

            I will try tp to find the link to source their data they used to cull this figure (I believe it was either an AAA or API article).

          • 0 avatar

            > What I was trying to say is that people may gripe about traffic, but in practice, they prefer sitting in traffic to the alternatives and don’t assign the economic price to it that you would expect if you relied upon them to tell you.

            Without splitting too many hairs on behavioral econ I think it’s sufficient to believe that if driving just became sitting on your a$$ posting to TTAC then people would be willing to spend the same hours on the road in their car in addition to today’s drive.

            It’s not necessary to be a glutton for punishment, the robot-car can in theory let you live on the road and people will if traffic got bad enough. Until of course one day they’ll have to leave for work as soon as they get home from the office to make the drive to the work again.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Hell,

      In 30 years I will be more than superannuated. I will be still and subterranean.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    Liability issues will doom the self-driving car.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      E46M3_333 – – –

      Why should liability issues afflict self-driving cars (SDC’s) more than buses or subway trains?

      As an enthusiast (5 Vehicles; of which two are BMW’s), I look forward to SDC’s. We have an aging population too, and teenagers are distracted by texting. I look forward to getting incompetent drivers nicely confined to little mobile boxes, — in which I will know exactly what they are going to do,— so I can do my own more competent thing, if you will forgive the apparent lack of humility…

      —————-

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        I’ll go you a step further. As much as I love driving (cars and motorcycles), there are a lot of times when I’d love to be able to step into a module (shades of The Jean Genie there) and be taken to my destination. Usually when we’re talking 200+ miles on an interstate. The daily work commute is a second thought.

        Other times I’d prefer to drive myself, when its enjoyable.

        I’d happily own two vehicles to have this choice, or keep the fun car and rent the boredom machine.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I agree with both of you. I’d love to have full autopilot for those times when I don’t WANT to drive, but have to. And a little more predictability among the great unwashed masses would be nice too.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Agenda 21! This century is going to be a wild ride.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Peak auto by the 2020’s? My goodness. This notion raises stupidity to new heights. And I thought the Peak Oil mavens were ignorant. Even the simplest back of the envelope analysis easily debunks Peak Auto by the 2020’s.

    Will there be a cyclical peak and subsequent temporary decline in the expansion of global motor vehicle production in the 2020’s? Maybe, maybe not. If traffic and air quality conditions in big cities of the developing world are any indication, maybe so.

    • 0 avatar
      Kinosh

      Peak oil production for the US was ~1970, and peak consumption ~2007.

      As for worldwide figures, there is a wide range of values and no terribly clear consensus. The “trivial” answer is that world oil production will eventually peak, if only due to mass conservation.

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        Kinosh

        Because of hydraulic fracturing, peak oil production in the U.S. lies somewhere in the future. This is according to the experts in the Corporate Planning Department at Exxon-Mobil and just about anyone else in the business for that matter. Production from the Bakken shale, Eagle Ford shale and the Wolfcamp shale is up by a total of about two million barrels per day over the past three years and is headed straight up. There are numerous plans in the works for additional tight oil projects in both the U.S. and Canada. You need to keep current with petroleum industry news.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Keeping up is getting hard to do, and for some the old numbers first learned can’t seem to be mentally superseded. I just read an article about reduction of the defense budget to less than $500 billion, and one commenter decried defense taking $750 billion from a $1 trillion budget. He was not only unaware the budget is now up to $3.5 trillion, he didn’t even read the article for comprehension. For that commenter, defense will always be 75% of the budget.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          We probably won’t be dependent on getting it from the ground. Quantum biologists have been making progress in learning about the mechanisms that algae use to produce oil. So, in the future, we might be producing carbon neutral oil in deserts. Even if the oil in the ground dries up, we’ll have another source.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Realistically, we have the tech NOW to mine comets or Jupiter for hydrocarbons. It’s just a lot cheaper to pump the stuff out of the ground.

            That is the amazing property of oil – the more expensive it is, the more there is of it.

        • 0 avatar

          > Because of hydraulic fracturing, peak oil production in the U.S. lies somewhere in the future. This is according to the experts in the Corporate Planning Department at Exxon-Mobil and just about anyone else in the business for that matter.

          The “peak” model is fundamentally correct. Fracking as a new extraction technology at best changes some var in the equation and shifts the peak.

          It’s all a moot point anyway since you can’t dump too much carbon into the atmosphere without far more expensive consequences; even if the oil companies aren’t the ones paying.

    • 0 avatar

      > Will there be a cyclical peak and subsequent temporary decline in the expansion of global motor vehicle production in the 2020′s?

      That said, “peak” as it’s used here is nothing like “peak” oil/resource even if technically can also be modeled with diff. eq’s.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    In my opinion, American cars probably peaked in the mid 60’s, Europeans in the late 80’s and the Japanese kept it going until the mid to late 90’s. This is generalizing quite a bit, but mostly cars of late hasn’t improved much in any of the ways that make them interesting as cars to me (except for the fact that they will last longer, just because they were made later) As for car sales peak, it should have peaked long ago, so that manufacturers can concentrate on making spares and upgrades for the ones allready out there.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, these guys fail the first rule of prognostication: make your forecast at least 10 years out so, by the time the forecast date arrives everyone has forgotten about the forecast and can’t prove that you were wrong.

    It is certainly true that, in 3rd world countries, there is a tremendous move towards urbanization due to a perceived better chance of employment in the city than on the farm . . . and the fact that these former peasants lack sufficient income to own a car to be mobile. Meanwhile, in most of the developed world: Europe, North America, Japan, population growth is leveling off (U.S.) static (most of Europe) or declining (Japan). So, the pressure to urbanize is going to be less.

    More importantly, the significant leaps in the efficacy of communications technology make distance much less significant. People are forming virtual communities, and the daily trek back and forth to an office (whether in a car, on a bus, or on foot) will seem increasingly stupid and wasteful economically.

    Meanwhile, in the U.S. at least, the perceived trend towards urbanization is, as is most things, driven by a handful of opinion leaders who live in New York, Washington, DC, San Francisco or Los Angeles. These trends are not confirmed elsewhere, and the most dynamic state in the U.S. — in terms of population and job growth — is Texas, which is definitely not urbanizing. Indeed, what these urbanizing places have in common is a variety of restrictive land-use policies and, especially in metro DC, an under-investment in road infrastructure in favor of expensive “heavy rail” a.k.a. subways.

    Mass transit is inherently inflexible (as to time as well as to destination), which is why people prefer self-transportation, either in a car, on a bike or on foot. I don’t think that’s going to change.

    Moreover, I don’t think it was some sort of false consciousness that led people (in, say, the U.S.) to voluntarily move out of the cities to less densely populated settings. People want more personal space.

    So, I wouldn’t bet a whole lot of money on this forecast . . . and, unless you believe in racial differences other than external apperances, there’s no reason to thing that emerging “3rd world” populations won’t have the same wants that, say, the U.S. population had 90 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Kinosh

      Looking at the city vs rural trend, I can only imagine that the urbanization trend will continue. Urban areas, by definition, contain many more jobs and residences and cultural amenities per square mile than rural ones. This makes land expensive.

      For the largest and most desirable (again, by definition of rent/square foot) areas in the United States this means that every square inch of land dedicated to parking, or roadway, or railway, or bus stations is a square inch that can’t be put to a more productive use.

      Mass transit in these areas is (by several orders of magnitude) more flexible than personal auto. I can’t cross Chicago from north to south in less time than I can if I take rail and make a bus connection. Additionally, the load factors of mass transit mean that (except at peak times of day) adding a new rider is “free”. Another car on the roadway that will require parking somewhere isn’t.

      I love cars, and I work for an automaker. Cars do not work in cities because, for all their virtues, they are massively inefficient in terms of space and emissions per person. Autonomous cars will not solve the space problem. Could you dismantle the MTA or CTA and replace it by having 70,000 self driving taxis an hour running through Manhattan?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Kinosh
        Mass transit can work profitably in very high urbanised regions.

        If you look at any major city public transport becomes scarcer as you move away from the central area or concentration of commerce.

        Paris has a great integrated public transit system. This is only within the old walled city region, or Zone 1 as they label it for public transport. But it can be highly congested and uncomfortable.

        Driving within Zone 1 I don’t recommend, take the Metro.

        The best option is to tax the daylights out of private use vehicles other than vehicles for commercial applications. Set up adequate parking stations and force everyone to use public transport within those heavily congested zones.

        But, governments/providers have to provide an adequate service (profitable).

        Another example is Penang (island) in Malaysia. You pay a toll to gain access to Penang whether by one freeway or ferry. To leave is gratis. Georgetown, which is the main city is very small in area by NA or Australian standards, but is in constant gridlock. Georgetown has the area of a large country town, but the population of a medium city. If Malaysia had the economy a subterranean system is the only answer.

        I think governments should look at restricting vehicle access into highly urbanised areas and the use of public transport be encouraged.

        Out side of those highly urbanised areas, its a free for all. Private vehicle use should be encouraged. This would save nations a lot of money.

        The problem with my idea is only affluent countries can afford this. Developing nations will have to tolerate poor infrastructure, until they can afford such systems.

        • 0 avatar
          Kinosh

          I either agree, am not sufficiently knowledgable, or am indifferent to everything you said with the exception of running transit systems at a profit/roads save govs money.

          There is no system in the US that has a farebox recovery ratio that is greater than 1:1 (profitable). That’s not the point of our transportation system. The fact that I can drive for “free” on a public roadway and then park “for free” at the grocery store and return home the same way shows that roadways aren’t run to make a profit.

          AAA puts the direct economic costs to consumers of auto ownership at ~500/month, before factoring in tolls or taxes for roads. You could have an excellent, 24/7 transit system if 80+% of area residents paid $6000 a year into it. I say again (and only because it’s important when you hear different transit ideas), private vehicle use is incredibly expensive due to the sprawl it creates, the costs of maintaining the infrastructure, the time in traffic, and the direct economic costs. 17% of an average American’s income is transport expenses.

          I intentionally left out the health benefits of walking 1+ miles per day with transit, or the climate change benefits, or the “community building” because some people would disagree with some/all of those points.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Thank you for bringing some sense to this. It seems most people forget that American cities are relatively tiny compared to the metropoli where such systems would be most useful (eastern Asia). I can only think of about 4 US cities where this makes sense.

      However, there is about 2,000 miles worth of flyover states that are sparsely populated. Columbus, Ohio can’t even get it together to manage a one-lane light rail system. And that’s pretty typical of most of America. And we expect these people to adopt automated communal vehicles?

  • avatar
    NVHGuru

    Do self-driving cars have the ability to see and avoid potholes? With the state of roads in Michigan it would be essential. I could just imagine a queue of cars all waiting in line because the front one can’t violate the yellow lines to avoid a hole and knows it is too deep to drive through…

    I think there need to be some major infrastructure improvements before autonomous cars become a reality.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      It’s not just potholes. Not all the technology is in the autonomous cars. In a demonstration project in San Diego, the state had to install sensors in the roadbed to guide the cars, and the cars had to be in perfect working order. The sensors in the road, like loop detectors that trigger the signals at intersections, have to be re-installed after the road is repaved, or even an overlay.

      The sensors were just in a HOV lane, to really work, sensors would have to be placed in every road, relocated after restriping, and reprogrammed for lane closures, as well as adjust for short term obstructions, like a delivery truck double parked. The only system flexible enough to do all that now, without the technology, is a taxi or limo service, or hiring your own chauffeur.

      • 0 avatar

        > The sensors were just in a HOV lane, to really work, sensors would have to be placed in every road, relocated after restriping, and reprogrammed for lane closures, as well as adjust for short term obstructions

        This is the wrong way to think about autonomous cars in general. These systems (the ones that work anyway) are designed to handle many supplementary inputs of which road tech is just one. It’s only in ostensibly exceptional cases where there’s a real plausity of data that they fall back into failover ie. stop.

        For example, the IR or whatever camera in the car should be able to detect a hole in the ground and either drive around/through it or determine it’s too deep/vast to cross and require driver intervention.

        • 0 avatar
          Marko

          Still, there are lots and lots of variables to consider that you subconsciously can figure out how to react to on the road, even if you can’t think of them off the top of your head, whereas a machine must be programmed with each and every one of them in. Relatively easy to do for a controlled test track in nice weather – harder to do for all possible weather conditions on a potholed, narrow, mountainous rural forest road in a continental climate.

          • 0 avatar

            > Still, there are lots and lots of variables to consider that you subconsciously can figure out how to react to on the road

            Yes, it’s an “open problem” with no correct solution and heuristics up the wazoo. That’s why for example google’s car only operate in Mountain View when the sun shines (rain reflects and obscures the ir-based cameras), but for the most part it works really well.

            If you’re interest, look up the DARPA Challenge, which just like the internet is the gov sponsored proj to bootstrap auto-cars. First year entrants all crashed at the first rock/bush they met, but it wasn’t long before they were mostly finishing a relatively challenging race. It changed everything.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Good point. Don’t forget about obstructions (i.e. fallen branches), construction sites, autumn leaves, black ice, getting stuck in snow, disabled vehicles on the side of the road, etc. Autonomous features on cars will likely have to be restricted to certain times weather-and-construction-wise and certain places (i.e. major highways) for the foreseeable future.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    You gotta keep a firm grasp on the obvious. All this requires is a little data and analytical competency in long division.

    How many people live in the USA and Canada? How many motor vehicles are currently in service there?
    How many people live in Western Europe? How many motor vehicles are currently in service there?

    How many people live in China? How many motor vehicles are currently in service there?
    How many people live in India? How many motor vehicles are currently in service there?
    How many people live in Africa? How many motor vehicles are currently in service there?

    Motor vehicle production may or may not be in the process of peaking in USA, Canada and Western Europe. It is certainly a mature industry in these areas. That said, anyone who seriously expects a global production peak in the 2020’s is a bit deficient in the gray matter department.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I think this makes sense and is a good thing. Most people’s commutes are bumper to bumper traffic… i.e. the least enjoyable type of driving out there. Commuting could be handled by adaptive public transportation pushing deeper into the suburbs. Longer but boring trips could be handled by more luxurious cars than folks might want to buy and own. And manufacturers could focus on enthusiast entries for folks who want to do their own driving. Not to mention it would get drunk, distracted and old drivers off the road, making things that much safer without forcing anything on anyone else. It’s all good to me and totally realistic.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States