How Will Waymo Weigh on Auto Sales?

By: Bridget Clerkin May 16, 2018
When Waymo—Google's self-driving car service—hits the rideshare market in the next few years, it could drastically impact U.S. auto sales.
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The rise of autonomous vehicles has long been predicted to spur the decline of individual car ownership. Financial experts are now starting to evaluate just how much of an impact that shift will have on the market.

The self-driving industry will be responsible for 12% of all vehicle sales by 2030. That’s according to a recent report by global investment bank powerhouse UBS.

Individual car ownership is expected to dip by 5% at that time.

Waymo—Google’s self-driving car spin-off company—is anticipated to be a driving force behind a majority of the change. It has a long head start on the process of teaching cars how to drive and a nearly ceaseless amount of funding at its disposal.

By 2030, the company is projected to own 60% of the autonomous market, according to UBS.

The majority share will come at a time when the autonomous market is predicted to include 26 million vehicles and be worth $2.8 trillion, with Waymo’s share representing $114 billion, UBS projected. Such dominance would nearly guarantee that competitors would have to adopt the company’s self-driving technology or die.

Still, UBS isn’t the only institution gazing into the crystal ball.

Research company Boston Consulting Group last year predicted 25% of all roadway miles traveled in 2030 will take place in a rideshare vehicle. Marketing firm RethinkX took that forecast even further. It’s forecasters are boldly predicting 95% of all miles driven in the United States in 2030 will be in communal cars.

Meanwhile, consulting group KPMG has anticipatedthe growing amount of shared miles by 2030 will lead to a 50% drop in individual vehicle purchases. (Specifically, the company called a decline in U.S. sedan sales, dropping from 5.4 million in 2017 to an anticipated 2.1 million by 2030.)

Despite the varying analyses, there’s one number that’s indisputable: 2018, the year by which Waymo anticipates starting their commercial robo-taxi service in earnest. A program in Arizona is due to launch by the end of this year.

What will happen after that launch, no matter how highly anticipated, remains to be seen.

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