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KPMG study finds autonomous vehicles & mobility services could add one trillion more vehicle miles traveled annually by 2050

Innovations in autonomous vehicles, connectivity, and mobility-on-demand will have a profound impact on consumers, particularly among younger and older people, according to a new study by KPMG. With these age groups set to embrace these technological and transformational changes, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the US will soar by approximately one trillion additional miles per year by 2050.

According to KPMG’s research, which consisted of consumer focus groups in Atlanta, Chicago and Denver, two generations will largely drive consumer demand in the future, the millennials and the “baby boomers plus”—ranging from 45 to 75 years. However, in every age group, participants showed significant attraction to mobility on demand for specific conditions or circumstances, including safety, weather, premium experience, and leisure time.

Large increases in personal miles traveled can ripple into a trillion more vehicle miles traveled. Source: KPMG. Click to enlarge.

According to KPMG’s Gary Silberg, National Automotive Leader for KPMG, the increasing desire for mobility options will present “huge opportunities for new entrants and business models in the auto industry.”

Think of it this way: 10 years ago, how many of us would have predicted that most 10-year-olds would be walking around with smartphones? We grossly underestimated that trend. The automotive landscape will significantly change as a result of autonomous vehicles, and consumer behavior will dictate the rate of adoption. Like the smartphone, let’s not underestimate the power of these changes and the vast potential for new business models to satisfy them.

—Gary Silberg

  • The 45-to-75-year-olds. Among the boomers plus, people are living longer, delaying retirement, and moving to cities. Older boomers, however, have concerns about the safety of their driving as they age. So do their children. They are not going to stop being active, however, and won't be intimidated by mobility options. They want their freedom of mobility. Silberg noted that “their almost-instant attraction to mobility services comes from a common concern expressed in the focus groups. With mobility services, people don’t have to worry about taking the keys away from older parents, and don’t have to worry about their driving.”

  • The 10-to-15-year-olds. Children and the parents of children share the boomers’ interest in mobility-on-demand services but for different reasons. For the children, it’s all about freedom without having to get their parents or someone else to drive. Relying on Uber? Via? Lyft? An autonomous vehicle in the future? No problem. They’ve grown up not only tech savvy but instinctively trusting in technology. In fact, the only limitation on their use of mobility-on-demand services will be their parents view on when they are old enough to put them in an Uber or Lyft on their own. “Parents like the idea of not having to play taxi for their kids,” said Silberg. “And mobility-on-demand will be especially attractive for parents in the future who will hesitate less to use these services.”

Impact to vehicle miles. These increases in personal miles traveled (PMT) can ripple into even larger fluctuations in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as vehicle occupancy rates change. For example, if more people started to select new self-driving options in the future—then we could see twice as much demand. And if we moved into a scenario occupancy rates fell below one person per car—for example, many self-driving cars without passengers—then the increase could be a staggering three to four trillion additional miles by 2050, according to KPMG.

Those increases would have a profound but unknown impact on vehicle sales, car ownership models, energy demand, and infrastructure. To be quite frank, I’m not sure people understand the enormity of the change, nor are we ready for it.

—Gary Silberg



I believe autonomous WILL happen, first with taxis then with shuttles.


I believe self-driving autonomous vehicles is impossible safely. I also believe
plug-in hybrid EV technology has much more potential to reduce fuel/energy consumption than all-battery EVs like the Tesla. 100 million additional vehicles driving 10,000 miles (1 Trillion miles) a year will only make traffic worse and accidents more horrific. Oh but isn't science fiction so much fun? Elon Musk's hyper-loop nonsense is once again pushed onto the public by moneybags editors of the Wall Street Journal. They'll say anything to keep the public distracted from the downside of car-dependency.


There are bus only lanes in major cities, these could be used for autonomous vehicles. Opinions are just that, but reality as we go through time is irrefutable.


Autonomous e-vehicles could be programmed to pick up 2 to 4 people on same or adjacent routes to reduce the number of vehicles effectively used instead of increasing their numbers, similar to UBER X?

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