Data analytics firm S&P Global Mobility estimates it will take another decade for autonomous vehicles to proliferate as adoption rates continue to underwhelm automotive industry forecasters.
Rather than seeing widespread use, autonomous vehicles will remain niche products in the coming years, primarily used for ridesharing, due to technological limitations. Although driver assistance features are improving and becoming commonplace, full self-driving is still far off. A system able to “go anywhere and do everything a human driver can,” classified by the National Highway as Level 5 Autonomy, will take at least 12 years to appear, according to S&P Global Mobility associate director for the autonomy practice Jeremy Carlson. Currently, most computer-assisted driving platforms, such as Tesla’s FSD and autopilot systems, are classified as Level 2. The only consumer vehicles to qualify for Level 3 self-driving (in the U.S.) are the upcoming 2024 Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan and S-Class, certified earlier this year. Despite its slow progress, Carlson expects the technology to reach Level 4 capabilities “on a much shorter timeline” than Level 5.
S&P Global Mobility estimates that 31% of all newly purchased consumer vehicles will include a Level 2+ or Level 3 self-driving system by 2035, with only 6% featuring Level 4 capabilities. Expanding the business of autonomous vehicles will require heavy investments and considerable effort. Most automotive companies are expected to focus on robotaxis rather than personal transportation to drive development in the sector and avoid financial losses due to low adoption rates. Although self-driving cars are a technology of the future, S&P Global Mobility still expects there to be a day when such vehicles overtake traditional human-piloted models. “There’s plenty of opportunity and growth ahead…” notes Clarson, “…but a future of shared mobility everywhere all the time will remain an aspiration for the industry.”