The days of personal car ownership and their use as primary personal transport could be nearing an end, according to a new study.
The study, 'The Impact of New Urban Mobility on Automotive Markets and Industry', by IHS Automotive and Groupe Futuribles, suggests the world’s car population will go into decline from around 2035.
By then, the study predicts congestion levels will have reached a point where car ownership is far less attractive than it is today, and cities will be forced to introduce tougher regulations in order to curb both congestion and pollution.
The study estimates 30 million fewer cars will be sold around the world each year by 2035 - which the study’s authors call a “sharp reduction” - and that by the same year there will be 250 million fewer cars on Planet Earth.
Besides congestion and pollution, the study found a continuing trend toward city living is another key factor in the expected decline.
Currently, more than 50 percent of the world’s population live in an urban area. This is expected to climb beyond 60 percent by 2035.
“It’s all about the cities,” IHS Automotive’s Philip Gott said. “Tomorrow’s cities just cannot fit the same number of cars per person as do the mature-market cities of today.”
Some cities have already peaked for car ownership, with the density of motorcycles and scooters in some Asian cities rendering personal cars effectively useless.
The study notes Beijing has vowed to cap car registrations at six million, but already has 5.4 million registrations at a rate of 130 cars per 1000 people - much less than the 400-500 cars per 1000 people-ratio enjoyed by the US and Europe.
Furthermore, the world already has enough car plants to meet current demand and forecast future demand, and the study’s report warns that some plants are nearing overproduction.
While countries like Australia will cope with a downturn in the popularity of the motor car, there will be no large-scale local carmakers here by 2035, emerging economies could be hit hard by the downturn.
Countries such as India, China and Russia are relying on growth in the car industry to keep their manufacturing plants operating, and a decline in annual sales could lead to mass job losses.
The study warns that carmakers will need to find new sales models if they are to remain economically viable in the future, with a shift from outright sales to car-sharing opportunities.
The study also proposes, however, that a rise in autonomous cars could arrest the decline in car popularity, as collision rates will improve or be eradicated and congestion will be much easier to manage.
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