‘Why in 15 years nobody will buy a car anymore’
“The year 2028 marks the end of the combustion engine, only 1% of car sales remaining. In 2032-2034 Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) has become an extreme cost efficient service and the dominant means of transport. Cars are only bought for pleasure, but driving them on public roads isn’t possible anymore.” Is such a scenario thinkable?
In his blog ‘Roadmap to disaster: Warum in 15 Jahren niemand mehr ein Auto kaufen wird’ German future mobility expert Enno Däneke, futurist and managing partner of consultancy company FutureManagementGroup AG and lecturer at several high schools, paints an interesting vision on the future of mobility in Germany over the next fifteen years.
Question is when will it happen
Däneke thinks that “taking into account what we know today on social and political trends and technological evolution, it is thinkable at least, but even probably. Electro-mobility and autonomous driving are coming.”
“I remember lots of project meetings with leading automotive companies only a few years ago, where these scenarios were questioned seriously. Today in these management circles the question is no longer whether it will happen, but when it will happen. Big car makers are not only preparing themselves, they are taking the lead in innovation. Betting on a slow transition would be careless.”
No more driver’s license
So what does Däneke think will happen in only 15 years to come? He believes children born today will be the first generation never needing a driver’s license anymore. Däneke starts with comparing how the car disrupted the world that was dominated by horses and carriages more than 100 years ago.
The Ford T, sold with millions by the late twenties, marked the beginning of mass motorization and the end of carriage builders, who were to disappear or become car sellers. “Today the automotive sector faces total disruption itself.”
2018 – 2022: air quality
When more and more German cities fail to comply with European air quality standards, major metropolitan areas are introducing a city toll system to discourage people to take the car to the centre and push them to public transport. With higher frequencies and lower prices cities bet on a paradigm shift.
At the same time a network of electric charging points is starting to cover the rural areas. The market share of electric cars rises to 20%. 90% of these cars are full electric (EV). By the end of 2022 some 1,4 million EVs are on German roads. Sales of new cars stalls at 3,5 million per year. Compared to 2015 the number of car dealerships has halved to 3.700.
2023 – 2025: break-through of electro-mobility
Without any government incentives electric cars have reached the same price level as petrol or diesel cars. These are the booming years for EVs. All car manufacturers have extended their electric product pallet massively. Most of them offer a high level of autopilot driving (level 3), which is mainly used on highways.
Urban mobility is divided between high efficient public transport, sharing concepts and e-mobility solutions. Innovative micro mobility devices are competing with the car as a status symbol and are broadly used for short distance displacements.
By the end of 2025 some 7,5 million electric cars are driving on German roads. Air quality has improved considerably in the city centres. Car sales have dropped to 3 million cars a year. Only 3.000 car dealers have survived in Germany and repair and maintenance shops come massively under pressure with electric cars needing far less maintenance.
2026 – 2028: buy or rent?
The year 2026 marks the end of the combustion engine. Its share in new cars sales drops under 1%. Electro-mobility has become the daily reality. Some 16 million EVs are driving on German roads. Energy comes for a major part from renewable sources. The majority of new cars is equipped with full automatic driving (level 4) capabilities that are to be used more and more in urban areas too.
The personal ‘driving pleasure’ has moved to the background as motivation when buying a new car. The car interior has become a place to work, shop and relax. With level 5 fully autonomous driving being more mainstream and a driver actually no longer necessary, more and more people are hesitating to buy another new car.
Leasing and sharing services are booming. In 2028 only 2,6 million new cars are sold. Even the big car makers come under pressure. Amazon has become the most successful car retailer and leasing company. The number of car dealerships has shrunk under 2.000. Their function balances between client services and online selling.
2029 – 2031: service providers push out dealers
More autonomous driving electric cars are seen on the streets. In online trading these autonomous cars almost deliver themselves to the client or they are ready at the agreed time at your front door for a test drive.
But the online car market gets under pressure too. With Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) covering more areas, buying a private car becomes obsolete. Especially city inhabitants benefit from door-to-door mobility. Solo rides can be booked or – in a cheaper way – shared with others.
Business models vary. In some cities they work completely in the open, first complementary to public transport and then taking its place. In other cities private suppliers dominate. In 2021 only 1 million cars are sold, among which half of them to mobility providers.
2032 – 2034: robot taxi at giveaway price
Introduction of autonomous driving electric vehicles has disrupted the complete mobility market. Mobility is a 24/7 available service and extremely cheap. Energy for the entire fleet comes completely from renewable sources. Energy prices have dropped last years because of many energy innovations.
Robot taxis are used to level out fluctuations in the electric grid. With solar panels you are producing part of your own energy needs. Mobility-as-a-Service will remain the dominant mobility concept of the 21st century. Private cars are only bought by car enthusiasts. Driving them on public roads is no longer allowed…