All About the Benjamins — How Much Money Can You Really Save?
Developing self-driving cars is of course, very expensive. Fully autonomous tech could add at least $100,000 to the price of a vehicle, while even semi-autonomous features like Tesla's Autopilot and Cadillac's Super Cruise already add $5,000 and $10,000, respectively, to the base vehicle cost.
These figures may put the tech out of reach of many Americans today. But the first self-driving cars won't be sold directly to consumers — the early adopters will be private companies and the ultra-wealthy. Once more AVs are on the road, mass adoption will lead to less expensive base models.
Tasha Keeney, a Self-Driving Car Analyst at ARK Invest, estimates that once it's widely available, the cost of fully autonomous technology will stay within $10,000 of the base sticker price. Think of it this way: the first cell phone on the market cost almost $4,000 in 1985, which adjusts to almost $10,000 today. You can buy the nicest iPhone on the market for a fraction of that price in 2018.
With self-driving cars, American culture's entire vehicle ownership model will dramatically shift. Michael Ramsey, the Research Director of Automotive and Smart Mobility at Gartner, says there's a good chance your first time in an AV will be in a ridesharing vehicle — in fact, Google's Waymo plans to roll out a robo-taxi service this year. "By 2025, [self-driving taxis] should be fairly common, though still concentrated in specific areas," says Ramsey. "By 2030, I anticipate the technology will be in regular use."
Once AV ridesharing is everywhere, it's easy to imagine two-car households going to just one car and urban one-car households dropping their cars entirely.