The coronavirus pandemic will delay the arrival of fully autonomous cars on the market beyond 2035. The consulting firm PwC estimates that only 1% of the cars that will be sold in Europe and China for that year will have a level 5 (the maximum) of autonomous driving.

According to the report Digital Auto Report 2020, the shutdowns of economies around the world caused by Covid-19 will have a “significant” impact on the sector. In the short term, sales and production have fallen, but in the long term this situation will have consequences such as a slowdown in investments and the delay in the development of the autonomous car, which will not be a reality in the market until after 2035.

Thus, sales of models in the most advanced stage of autonomy in the three main world markets (European Union, China and the United States) will not reach 1% of the total, in the best of cases, for 15 years.

In addition, level 4 autonomous cars will account for around 15% of sales in the European and Chinese markets, while accounting for only 2% of US registrations

According to the latest PwC estimates, worldwide vehicle sales are expected to fall by 13.9% in 2020 to 64.6 million units, while production will decline 18.9% to 59.6 million cars. In Europe alone, registrations will drop 28% this year and manufacturing by 26.9% compared to 2019 data.

For next year, worldwide expectations point to a partial recovery in the market, with an increase in sales and production of 10.1% and 25.2%, respectively.

In the report, PwC highlights that more than 50% of the vehicle fleet in the European Union will be fully connected, although this figure will be reached two years earlier in the US and in China, in 2029.

The consultancy also points out that the situation generated by Covid-19 and the fall in investments will slow down the transition to new mobility models, although shared mobility is expected to grow.

On the other hand, it foresees that 17% of the vehicles sold in Europe in 2025 will correspond to electric models, a percentage that rises to 19% in China and drops to 5% in the US “due to the lack of incentives from the North American authorities “.

“The evolution of the pandemic will mark the future of a sector that has diminished its capacity to invest in the development of new technologies, but which now focuses on the short term, mainly on emission restrictions and vehicle development electricity but, above all, to recover as soon as possible the global sales and production levels prior to Covid-19 “, stressed the head of the Automotive sector at PwC, Manuel Díaz.


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