Nearly 21 million self-driving vehicles will populate roads around the world by 2035, according to a new projection from IHS Automotive.
The U.S. is expected to lead the way in autonomous vehicle adoption, even as it continues to grapple with regulatory challenges and consumer concerns. Starting with several thousand autonomous vehicles in 2020, the U.S. see 4.5 million vehicles on the road by 2035, IHS says.
Meanwhile, IHS predicts that around 5.7 million vehicles with some level of autonomy will be sold in China by 2035. In Western Europe, where industry leaders could maintain their market status through the premium segment, just over 3 million autonomous vehicles are projected to be sold. Japan and South Korea combined should have nearly 1.2 million vehicles with some level of autonomy on the road by 2035.
IHS called its overall projection a "substantial increase" from previous estimates. The stronger forecast is based on factors like increasing OEM investment in self-driving technology and new commercial innovations from car-sharing and ride-sharing programs. Major automakers like BMW are working on fleets of autonomous vehicles, while mobility service providers like Uber have their own ambitions for driverless cars.
"Future mobility will connect and combine many different modes and technologies, and autonomous vehicles will play a central role," said Jeremy Carlson, principal analyst at IHS Automotive. "IHS expects entirely new vehicle segments to be created, in addition to traditional vehicles adding autonomous capabilities. Consumers gain new choices in personal mobility to complement mass transit, and these new choices will increasingly use battery electric and other efficient means of propulsion."
Still, IHS cites the continued challenges that exist in the sector, like software reliability and cybersecurity.