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Autonomous vehicles worldwide - statistics & facts

Autonomous vehicles are slowly gaining market share. While in 2019, there were some 31 million with at least some level of automation in operation worldwide, their number is expected to surpass 54 million in 2024. Correspondingly, the global autonomous car market is projected to grow as well. Although the market shrank by around three percent in 2020 due to the economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is forecast that between 2020 and 2023, the market will grow by almost 60 percent.

Despite bold proclamations coming from autonomous car manufacturers, fully autonomous cars may still be years ahead. One of the main reasons is the fact that the technology necessary to make fully autonomous vehicles an everyday reality is not yet advanced enough. Car manufacturers are, however, implementing some of the ready-to-use technologies into new vehicles, giving them a degree of autonomy in specific tasks.

Varying levels of autonomy

The terminology surrounding autonomous vehicles is fragmented and inconsistent. The terms ‘autonomous’, ‘automated’, and ‘self-driving’ may be used interchangeably or used to describe various degrees of automation of a vehicle. To standardize the language, SAE International published a six-level classification system based on the degree of driver intervention in 2014. Level 0 is used for vehicles with a minimal level of automation that assists the driver in certain situations, while Level 5 stands for vehicles that are fully autonomous and can function without a human driver.

It is projected that in 2025, almost 60 percent of all new cars sold globally will have Level 2 autonomy. In 2030, Level 2 autonomous cars are expected to still dominate the market but Level 3 and Level 4 autonomous vehicles should account for around eight percent of all new car sales.

Major companies

The field attracts established automotive manufacturers, tech companies, and specialized start-ups alike. Companies such as General Motors, Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen, Ford, and Tesla have all entered the market. Due to the complexity of developing autonomous vehicles, companies tend to set up joint ventures or acquire smaller companies to gain access to technological know-how and talent. The world of autonomous vehicles is, thus, becoming increasingly smaller. In 2016, for example, General Motors acquired a start-up Cruise and in 2021, Toyota announced the purchase of Lyft’s autonomous car division. Argo AI, another start-up in the industry, has received substantial financial backing from Ford and Volkswagen.

Tesla’s Autopilot feature, classified as SAE Level 2, is currently facing increasing scrutiny from U.S. authorities after a series of accidents involving Teslas. How the findings of the federal investigation will affect the company, as well as the whole industry, is yet to be seen.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 29 most important statistics relating to "Autonomous vehicles worldwide".

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