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Research Finds Autonomous Vehicles Could Add One Trillion More Vehicle Miles Traveled Annually by 2050

Millennials and “baby boomers plus” embracing autonomous vehicles, connectivity and mobility-on-demand could set stage for huge jump in miles driven.



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Innovations in autonomous vehicles, connectivity and mobility-on-demand will have a profound impact on consumers, particularly among younger and older people, according to a new study by KPMG. With these age groups set to embrace these technological and transformational changes, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the U.S. will soar by approximately one trillion additional miles per year by 2050.

The new research report is titled, “The Clockspeed Dilemma.”

According to KPMG’s research, which consisted of consumer focus groups in Atlanta, Chicago and Denver, two generations will largely drive consumer demand in the future, the millennials and the “baby boomers plus”– ranging from 45 to 75 years. However, in every age group, participants showed significant attraction to mobility-on-demand for specific conditions or circumstances, including safety, weather, premium experience and leisure time.


According to KPMG’s Gary Silberg, national automotive leader for KPMG, the increasing desire for mobility options will present “huge opportunities for new entrants and business models in the auto industry.”

“Think of it this way: 10 years ago, how many of us would have predicted that most 10-year-olds would be walking around with smartphones?” asked Silberg. “We grossly underestimated that trend. The automotive landscape will significantly change as a result of autonomous vehicles, and consumer behavior will dictate the rate of adoption. Like the smartphone, let’s not underestimate the power of these changes and the vast potential for new business models to satisfy them.”


The 45-to-75-year-olds

Among the boomers plus, people are living longer, delaying retirement and moving to cities. Older boomers, however, have concerns about the safety of their driving as they age, and so do their children. They’re not going to stop being active, however, and won’t be intimidated by mobility options. They want their freedom of mobility. Silberg noted that “their almost-instant attraction to mobility services comes from a common concern expressed in the focus groups. With mobility services, people don’t have to worry about taking the keys away from older parents, and don’t have to worry about their driving.”


The 10-to-15-year-olds

Children and the parents of children share the boomers’ interest in mobility-on-demand services, but for different reasons. For the children, it’s all about freedom without having to get their parents or someone else to drive. Relying on Uber? Via? Lyft? An autonomous vehicle in the future? No problem. They’ve grown up not only tech savvy but instinctively trusting of technology. In fact, the only limitation on their use of mobility-on-demand services will be their parents’ view on when they’re old enough to put them in an Uber or Lyft on their own. “Parents like the idea of not having to play taxi for their kids,” said Silberg. “And mobility-on-demand will be especially attractive for parents in the future who will hesitate less to use these services.”


Impact to Vehicle Miles

These increases in personal miles traveled can ripple into even larger fluctuations in VMT as vehicle occupancy rates change. For example, if more people started to select new self-driving options in the future, then we could see twice as much demand. And if there was a scenario where occupancy rates fell below one person per car – for example, self-driving cars without passengers – then the increase could be a staggering three to four trillion additional miles by 2050.

“Those increases would have a profound but unknown impact on vehicle sales, car ownership models, energy demand and infrastructure,” said Silberg. “To be quite frank, I’m not sure people understand the enormity of the change, nor are we ready for it.”

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