Transport disruption coming

7th June 2017

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  • Transport


Mary Collins

A new report predicts that 95% of US passenger miles travelled in 2030 will be in on-demand autonomous electric vehicles owned by fleets not individuals.

According to think tank RethinkX, the switch to so-called ‘transport-as-a-service’ (TaaS) models will have enormous implications across the sector and oil industries, decimating entire portions of their value chains, causing oil demand and prices to plummet and destroying trillions of dollars in investor value.

At the same time, TaaS would create new business opportunities, consumer surplus and GDP growth. The study estimates that the average American family would save more than $5,600 a year in transportation costs by using TaaS, equivalent to a wage rise of 10% and boosting the overall annual disposable income for US households by $1tn by 2030.

Co-author and RethinkX founder Tony Seba said: ‘We are on the cusp of one of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruptions in history. But there is nothing magical about it. This is driven by economics.’

TaaS should also bring dramatic reductions or the elimination of air pollution and greenhouse gases from the transport sector, leading to improved public health, said RethinkX. It predicts a big reduction in the number of vehicles on US roads, from 247 million in 2020 to 44 million in 2030.

This is because fleet-owned autonomous electric vehicles (AEVs) will be used more often and will travel further over their lifecycles, potentially one million miles by 2030. As demand for new vehicles plummets, there will be 70% fewer passenger cars and lorries manufactured in the US each year, according to the report.

Maintenance, energy, finance and insurance costs of AEVs are also forecast to be lower than human-driven, internal combustion engine vehicles.

Using TaaS will be up to ten times cheaper per mile than buying a new car, and up to four times cheaper than operating an existing paid-off vehicle by 2021, RethinkX said.

The TaaS transport system would reduce energy demand by 80% and tailpipe emissions by more than 90%. Assuming a concurrent disruption of the electricity infrastructure by solar and wind, we may see a largely carbon-free road transportation system by 2030, the report states.


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