Report claims self-driving cars will totally collapse US car industry by 2030

10 May 2017

New cars waiting or inspection. Image: shigemi okano/Shutterstock

A report issued in the US has raised some eyebrows after it claimed that by 2030, the vast majority of cars in the country will be automated and electric.

In a country where gas has been king for over a century, the attempts to disrupt an entire industry and switch everyone over to self-driving electric vehicles (EVs) appears to be quite a challenge.

However, a new report published by think tank RethinkX, called Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030, is making a rather bold prediction that suggests the opposite.

According to the organisation’s analysts, the disruption to the motor industry will be less like a gradual move and more like a hard and violent shove, with expectations that by 2030, 95pc of US passenger miles will be completed using self-driving EVs.

This is despite the fact that the target is only 13 years away and self-driving cars are still in a highly experimental state.

Car businesses will face ‘complete destruction’

Analysts believe that the major turning point will be in 2021, when transport-as-a-service (TaaS) providers such as Uber and Lyft will presumably become so affordable that people will move away from private car ownership in their droves.

“The TaaS disruption will be what is called a ‘Big Bang Disruption’: the moment that TaaS is available, it will outcompete the existing model in all markets,” the report said.

“We find that within 10 years from this point, 95pc of US passenger miles will be travelled by TaaS.”

It estimates that the average cost for a family using TaaS providers will be $5,600 per year. While it won’t eliminate the need for a personal car, it will lead to the greatest increase in consumer spending ever seen.

TaaS graph

A graph showing the rapid uptake of TaaS in the US. Image: RethinkX

Oil industry will also collapse

This is bad news for car industry, with the likelihood that such a shift would result in the “total disruption of the car value chain, with car dealers, maintenance and insurance companies suffering almost complete destruction”.

RethinkX says that by this time, the number of cars on American roads will have seen a 70pc decline, from 247m to 44m, with 100m existing vehicles simply being abandoned because they are “economically unviable”.

Unsurprisingly, things don’t look good for the oil business either. The report estimates that by 2030, oil demand will drop to 70m barrels per day, leading to industry collapse as demand decreases by 90pc.

One potential benefit, however, is the dramatic effect on the environment that such a move would have, with estimates that 80pc of the US’s energy demands would decrease as a result of widespread adoption of TaaS.

RethinkX said: “Our aim is to facilitate a global conversation about the threats and opportunities of technology-driven disruption, and to focus attention on choices that can help lead to a more equitable, healthy, resilient and stable society.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic