Annual worldwide sales of self-driving cars will grow from almost 230,000 in 2025 to 11.8 million in 2035, according to a new report from global consultant IHS Automotive.
A total of 54 million self-driving cars, including those that include some control by drivers, will be in use by 2035, the report forecast.
Cars that include both driver and autonomous control are expected to hit the roads before 2025, and cars that are completely autonomous are expected around 2030, IHS said. Of the self-driving cars sold in 2035, 7 million will include some assistance by drivers, and 4.8 million will be completely autonomous. Almost all vehicles will be self-driving sometime after 2050, the study said.
Self-driving technology will add between $7,000 and $10,000 to a car's sticker price in 2025. The cost will drop to around $5,000 in 2030 and about $3,000 in 2035 when no driver controls are available.
IHS analysts say self-driving cars will improve highway safety and reduce accidents.
"Traffic congestion and air pollution per car should also decline because (self-driving cars) can be programmed to be more efficient in their driving patterns," study co-author Egil Juliussen said in a press statement.
Autonomous car technology is already affecting systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and collision mitigating brake systems. The IHS study says the first group of autonomous cars will have so-called Level 3 capability - limited self-driving that enables the driver to cede full control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic and environmental conditions. That technology will include auto pilot for highway travel and parking. Coming later in the decade will be self-driving cars with Level 4 capability - self-driving but with human controls.
IHS said North America will account for 29 percent of worldwide sales of self-driving cars with human controls (level 4) and self-driving only cars (level 5) in 2035, or nearly 3.5 million vehicles. China will capture the second largest share at 24 percent, or more than 2.8 million vehicles, while Western Europe will account for 20 percent of the total, 2.4 million vehicles.