Car sharing won't be as disruptive as self-driving cars: study

Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:08am EST
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By Paul Lienert

DETROIT (Reuters) - The growth of car-sharing services will erode traditional manufacturers' vehicle sales and revenues through 2021, but will not be nearly as disruptive as the rise of self-driving cars later in the decade, a study forecasts.

The evolution of car sharing services, such as those provided by Avis Budget Group's (CAR.O: Quote) Zipcar and Daimler AG's (DAIGn.DE: Quote) Car2Go, could trim global vehicle sales by 550,000 in 2021 and cost manufacturers more than $8 billion in lost revenue, according to a survey released on Tuesday by Boston Consulting Group.

But car-sharing will have a far greater impact in Europe and the Asia-Pacific than in North America, the study predicts.

Automakers in North America are expected to lose about 52,000 sales a year to car-sharing customers in 2021, but that will be offset by sales of 44,000 vehicles a year to car-sharing fleets, for a net loss of only 8,000 vehicles at a cost of just over $500 million, BCG researchers said.

In addition, U.S. automakers such as Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) and General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) are investing in car-sharing services in several markets to supplement individual vehicle ownership.

In the longer run, according to the study, "autonomous vehicles will have a much greater impact on new-car sales than car-sharing will," but not until 2027.

The study did not account for the short-term impact of ride- hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. But it noted that the arrival of self-driving vehicles in the late 2020s will trigger the convergence of car-sharing and ride-hailing.

Car-sharing will not be "a true game changer," the study concluded, but self-driving cars "will change the game, erasing the distinction" between car-sharing and ride-hailing while providing users with "a significant edge in the total cost of ownership."

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Dan Grebler)

A man walks past an electric car from the car sharing company Car2Go, shown parked in front of their offices in San Diego, California September 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake -