US: autonomous cars could reduce the car count in households image

According to the latest report coming from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, self-driving vehicles could lower the car count in American households as they open up new commuting possibilities.

UMTRI researchers Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak decided to base their research on analyzed data from the government’s National Household Travel Survey, with the industry experts finding that even families that have three or more vehicles in their household often rely on just one of them at any given time. They proceeded to examine then the driving habits of around 150,000 households, revealing that 83.7% of them lacked any overlapped or conflicted trips during an average day. Just 14.7% of households had two drivers with overlapping trips that created the need to have more than one vehicle. And just 2% of the latter actually had the need for three or more cars. “We expected it would go in that direction, but we were surprised how extreme it was,” commented Schoettle.

The study then takes into account the possibility that a self-driving vehicle would be able to get back home on its own, where another family member could use the car while the other user is at work – then send it back to the office to pick him/her up at the end of the day. In the best case scenario, where everyone has the flexibility to share the vehicle to the maximum, the UMTRI study believes that the average vehicle ownership rate could dive from 2.1 cars per household today to just 1.2 per household. On the other hand, other recent studies claim that the advent of autonomous cars could spur demand. For example, depending on regulations, these cars could allow disabled people or even children to travel in a car alone – a form of transportation that is not possible today for them.