The rise of autonomous vehicles is tipped to spell the end of car ownership, but for now car sales are still growing.
2016 was a record year for car sales in Australia with 1.17 million vehicles sold, an increase of 2 per cent on the 2015 calendar year record.
Research outfit Canalys forecasts 93.7 million cars will be sold worldwide in 2017, up 1.7 per cent on 2016.
But Canalys believes car sales will peak in 2022 as as robotaxis take off. And no car maker is too big to fail.
Low single-digit percentage sales volume growth will continue for the next five years, peaking at 99 million cars sold in 2022. Annual global sales will then decline as the urban mobility revolution, already affecting the market, gathers pace.
“The convenience of owning a car comes at a cost. Cars are under-used – they sit idle for more than 90 per cent of the time. The wider availability of urban mobility services, such as ride-hailing, car-sharing and robotaxis, will further reduce car ownership. With the expectation of everything on demand, these services will revolutionise how people travel,” said Chris Jones, Chief Analyst, Automotive at Canalys.
“In this climate, no car maker is too big to fail,” said Jones. “They will continue to fight for sales growth and must seek new revenue streams, including urban mobility services. Cars will increasingly become connected, electric, autonomous and shared. Car-makers that are too slow or too conservative to adapt their strategies will disappear.”
Some car makers have already got the memo.
Globally, Ford is preparing itself for a future where its business isn’t solely reliant on selling cars, “transitioning to be an automotive and a mobility company.”
It has formed the Smart Mobility Group to develop and invest in mobility solutions that address consumers’ transportation needs.
In 2016, Ford acquired Chariot, a San Francisco-based crowd-sourced shuttle service, which operates nearly 100 Ford Transit shuttles along 28 routes throughout San Francisco Bay Area.
The company is also investing $1 billion during the next five years in Argo AI, to combine Ford’s autonomous vehicle development expertise with Argo AI’s robotics experience and startup speed on artificial intelligence software – all to further advance autonomous vehicles.