Deloitte study: Urban mobility in 2035 Robotaxis means even more traffic jams

Deloitte predicts: Every third journey in Germany will be covered by autonomous driving services in 2035; the volume of traffic will increase by up to 40 percent as a result of autonomous driving services; public transport will remain the loser.

Autonomous taxis and shuttle vehicles could lead to a massive increase in inner-city traffic by 2035. This is the result of the study »Urban Mobility and Autonomous Driving in 2035« from the series »Datenland Deutschland« by Deloitte.
The authors of the study assume that in 2035 cars can reliably drive fully autonomously and autonomous vehicles have established themselves in the market. In addition to autonomous privately owned cars, this opens up a business segment for service providers who charge for their journeys. Two vehicle types could become established: autonomous taxis for one to two and autonomous shuttles (shared taxis) for a maximum of four passengers.
The study is based on a quantitative mobility model which includes for example movement patterns, and population structure in 109 German cities as well as a representative online experiment with over 2,000 potential users on acceptance and willingness to pay for autonomous driving services. The result of the calculations is surprising: »Our mobility model predicts that two major effects can be expected: The number of vehicles driving on our roads at the same time is increasing. This reduces the traffic flow and significantly increases the risk of congestion," says Dr. Thomas Schiller, Partner and Head of Automotive at Deloitte.
Autonomous taxis and shuttles are significantly cheaper
Autonomous driving services could not replace only private cars but also local public transport in cities. Because robotic taxis are more efficient and have a higher load factor, journeys are 25 percent cheaper than journeys with the own car. Users of autonomous shuttles pay half the price of a public transport ticket - with significantly more comfort. According to Deloitte's calculations, autonomous taxis cost 34 cents per kilometer, autonomous shuttles 15 cents.
Main mode of transport: Robotaxi
If market forces were given free rein, in 2035 740,000 autonomous vehicles would be on the road in cities, twelve times as many as today's taxi fleet. Every third journey would be covered by autonomous driving services. Price competition would not only displace the private car, whose share of daily journeys would be reduced from 49 percent today to 32 percent in 2035. The use of public transport will also fall from 20 to 14 percent. Even the use of bicycles and footpaths will decrease from 31 to 21 percent. The autonomous driving services are particularly attractive for pupils who do not yet have a driving licence and pensioners who no longer want to drive themselves or who prefer the convenience of door-to-door services of autonomous driving services instead of using public transport.
Threat of traffic collapse
The number of vehicles in urban regions will decrease by 20 percent, which will primarily relieve parking space. However, since autonomous vehicles are used more frequently, traffic in cities increases by up to 40 percent at peak times. Traffic jams are the result. The average speed on the roads then drops by 10 percent, and the morning driving time to work increases by an average of 2.5 minutes - for all road users. At least the environment is hardly affected by the increasing traffic: The autonomous vehicles are likely to be electrically powered throughout and are therefore emission-free locally.
Smart regulation is a solution
»If the market would develop freely without regulation, the potential would be enormous. Readiness to use and demand are high. Potential users would be available - manufacturers would have to follow with the appropriate technology and politicians would have to set the right course to prevent increased traffic congestion,« summarises Deloitte chief economist Dr. Alexander Börsch. In general smart regulation could basically be a solution to steer mobility into order and avoid traffic collapse.
Large market potential
»For the automotive industry and service providers, the autonomous vehicles result in new business models«, says Thomas Schiller: »The operation of autonomous driving service fleets can achieve an annual turnover volume of up to 16.7 billion euros - that is one sixth of the turnover that vehicle manufacturers generate today from the sale of new cars in Germany. For OEMs, this would open up a second market that is about mileage rather than car sales.«