Banking and finances groups Barclays predicts the arrival of autonomous cars could cut new car sales by up to 40 percent over the coming decades.
In a report titled “Disruptive Mobility”, the group foresees the gradual decline in sales over a 25-year period, as fully self-driven cars slowly become the mainstream offering in showrooms around the world.
Brian Johnson, an analyst with Barclays, predicts that nearly half of all urban families will become one-car households, while car-sharing programs will become the norm for many.
Autonomous cars will be able to park themselves, and can be directed to drive themselves from one family appointment to the next, such as taking children to and from school.
This would likely see cars travel much further in a year than they do now, the report predicts, but only one car will be required for a family to go about its daily business.
Johnson says that, as a result, global carmakers will be forced to dramatically reduce output to match an anticipated drop in demand.
“GM and Ford would need to reduce North American production by up to 68 percent and 58 percent, respectively," Johnson said.
Sales in the US could plummet to around 9.5 million per year, which could eventually lead to a 60 percent drop in the number of cars on US roads.
The report notes that fewer cars will be required as more of them become autonomous, saying one self-driven car has the ability to replace nine ‘traditional’ cars.
Likewise, the growth of car-sharing as a preferred mode of transport could see one autonomous car replace up to 18 vehicles.
Services from taxis and ride-sharing providers could become much cheaper as companies would no longer need to pay a driver’s salary - further increasing their popularity and reducing the need for people to possess their own cars.
The report compares the rise of the autonomous car to that of the motor vehicle over the horse, saying the world’s horse population dropped sharply once people made the switch to cars.
"Horses once filled the many roles that cars fill today, but as the automobile came along, the population of horses dropped sharply," the report said.