“By 2030, within 10 years of regulatory approval of fully autonomous vehicles, 95% of all U.S. passenger miles will be served by transport-as-a-service (TaaS) providers who will own and operate fleets of autonomous electric vehicles providing passengers with higher levels of service, faster rides and vastly increased safety at a cost up to 10 times cheaper than today’s individually owned (IO) vehicles.”
This is the startling start to a substantive new report by RethinkX, a research group that looks at disruptive technologies from a finance, market, and technology perspective. As bold and clear as that opening sentence is, this report goes on to describe the possible impacts on everything from the geopolitical implications of a crashing oil economy to the boost of household income (10%) due to reduced transportation costs to the changes in the automobile industry from production to the local repair shop. They predict a reduction in automobile in use from 247 million vehicles to 44 in an extremely short time frame, all the while estimating that actual miles that people will travel will double compared to a 2021 estimate and at a quarter of the cost.
How those shifts impact the form and function of cities, employment, land use, social cohesion, municipal budgets, etc. are not the subject of this report. Nor is there a discussion about the non-auto forms of transportation in the future, how street space might be re-allocated, where and how urban form and place-making change, or the policy environment that influences all of these local qualities. However, understanding possible changes due to accelerating feedback loops of AV technology and rollout, as well as industry and resource disruption globally and industry-wide, makes this report a very clear contributor to understanding that AVs are not a transportation issue, they are an everything issue.