We are less than two decades away from peak car, where sales of passenger vehicles will reach their all-time high before car ownership begins to decline.

This is according to research by GlobalData Technology, published in a thematic research report on electric vehicles.

“In 2034, we predict that global passenger vehicle sales will peak at 113.4 million units, having risen from 81 million in 2017,” the company writes in the report.

“Thereafter we expect a decline in sales of new passenger vehicles as ride sharing apps combined with autonomous driving technology create transport networks that reduce demand for car ownership.

“The consensus in the oil industry sees ‘peak car’ between 2030-2035.”

Peak car: The future reduction of car ownership

While older generations consider car ownership to be a vital part of adult life, for millennials, and increasingly members of generation Z, owning a vehicle is becoming less common, particularly in urban areas.

As self-driving vehicles become widespread over the next-decade, bringing with them a proliferation of ride-sharing option, this trend will grow further.

“The proliferation of autonomous driving technology and ride-sharing apps will contribute to a shift in the car buying patterns of urban millennials,” said GlobalData Technology. “This is likely eventually to lead to ‘peak car’ – the start of a period of falling new car sales.”

This trend has been relatively widely predicted, however many do not expect it to happen for several decades.

“It is difficult to say when peak car will occur as it will depend on the extent to which urban millennials turn away from car ownership in favour of car sharing facilities provided by transport-as-a-service networks,” the report said.

“At GlobalData we expect the shift from ownership to ride sharing to be faster and more marked than widely assumed.”

The company puts the year of peak car at just 2034, only 16 years away.

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“Thereafter we expect a decline in sales of new passenger vehicles as ride sharing apps, combined with autonomous driving technology, create transport networks that reduce demand for car ownership.”

Predicted sales of ICE (international combustion engine) vehicles versus EV (electric vehicles)

GlobalData graph showing predicted sales of internal combustion engine vehicles versus electric vehicles

GlobalData graph showing predicted sales of internal combustion engine vehicles versus electric vehicles