The brisk growth in electric vehicle sales. A growing consumer focus on sustainability. The emergence of micromobility.
In the next 10 to 15 years, there could be a transformation in how Americans get from Point A to Point B as big as that of the early days of the automobile, except in the opposite direction: the decline, rather than the acceleration, of traditional car ownership. The reason is simple. The demand for options is growing, and so is the supply of alternatives that can meet that demand.
Before profound market shifts can occur, consumer attitudes must change. And evidence shows this is beginning to happen. In a survey last year, almost half of respondents (46 percent) said they have switched to more sustainable brands or products. Since transportation accounts for about 38 percent of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, it is logical to think these consumers will apply their preferences to mobility.
In that survey, which asked U.S. consumers about their attitudes and habits regarding mobility, there is other evidence, too, that such attitudes are real and growing:
- 63 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed say they will change their mobility behavior and consumption patterns out of sustainability considerations, and 67 support car-free days in their hometown.
On the global front, we found:
- 30 percent of respondents plan to increase their use of micromobility, such as e-bikes and e-scooters, or shared mobility over the next decade.
- 46 percent are open to replacing their private vehicles with other modes of transport in the coming decade.
Such options are emerging.
The global micromobility market is worth about $180 billion today, and McKinsey estimates it could reach about $440 billion by 2030. Of every hundred trips, 16 are via micromobility. In the U.S. and Europe alone, the number of trips via e-kick scooters has risen from next to nothing in 2017 to 350 million in 2022. And 43 percent of Americans surveyed said they were likely or rather likely to add micromobility to their transportation mix.
In addition, EV sales are growing fast in the U.S. In 2021, EV sales more than doubled compared with 2020, and 2022 blew the previous record away by 57 percent, with 750,000 EVs registered. This year, the momentum has continued; in the first quarter, the market share of EVs reached a record 7.2 percent, as sales rose 44 percent compared with the first quarter of 2022. The auto industry will likely sell at least 1 million EVs in the U.S. for the first time this year.
Simultaneously, shared mobility is on the rise. Consumers are looking for transportation options that are convenient, cost-effective and sustainable. More than a third of Americans have used a ride-sharing app, double the percentage in 2015, with projections for the market to grow more than 16 percent yearly for at least the next few years. The development of shared mobility will depend on various factors, including technological progress and regulation, but it could reach $500 billion to $1 trillion in value by 2030.
The end of the car is not nigh: U.S. light-vehicle sales are likely to be 14 million to 15 million units in 2030, down from 18 million in 2016. That's a significant drop, but 15 million is still a lot of new vehicles. Shared mobility is via the car, too. And many of the trends are dominated by urban areas. Globally, 45 out of 100 trips are via a private car.
But what can be said is that a fundamental rethinking is going on. Many Americans are beginning to move away from the decades-old norm of getting about via individually owned, internal combustion vehicles. They are open to new kinds of transport, fueled in different ways, and operated via business models that didn't exist in the 20th century. By 2035, the landscape could look very different.
These technological and social changes create a generational challenge for today's automakers. The companies that recognize this inflection point, and adapt to it, will be the ones that prosper.