What AV Adoption Timeline Can We Expect?

In order to shed some light on this question, Fehr & Peers conducted a detailed review of autonomous vehicle (AV) adoption timeline predictions. Although the expected timelines for AV technology development, market adoption, and legal and policy landscapes are uncertain, we gathered the best available information from both industry leaders and academic literature to inform our estimates.

The chart below presents a range of timeframes for the predicted growth in autonomous vehicle travel at the national level in the US, as a percent of the total vehicle fleet over time. Results are based on a literature review Fehr & Peers conducted in 2018, as well as the results of the expert Delphi panel Fehr & Peers convened in 2018.

While the results reveal the diversity of opinions regarding AV technology deployment and adoption in the future, several key takeaways are evident:

Based on this literature review, we estimated that a “reasonable” range of AV adoption is expected to fall between 15-35% for the year 2035, and 20-55% by 2040.

Our Delphi panel participants expect a slightly more optimistic view of AV adoption timelines, predicting that by 2050 AVs will comprise 80% of the vehicle fleet.

Because results vary, AV adoption could occur more quickly or slowly depending on technological advances and regulations.

The literature supports the conclusion that there will be a long transition period from the use of traditional autos to AVs with defining events such as when fully autonomous (Level 5) vehicles are deployed, and when AVs penetrate the majority of the market. This period could last from 10-20 years.

Though not reflected directly on the chart, adoption rates are also likely to differ across regions in the US, and between urban and suburban settings.

While the transition to AVs is expected to take place over the next 20-30 years, a transition could happen more quickly if the rollout of a relatively large AV fleet were to occur in a short period of time.  This would require a tremendous amount of capital and a relatively fast shift in consumer preferences, but companies like Waymo appear eager to try just that sort of approach.

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