Autonomous vehicles could account for 1 in 3 London car journeys by 2025, predicts new consortium


A consortium investigating ways to integrate new technology into London’s public transport network has predicted that autonomous ride-sharing services could account for a third of all trips by private drivers in the city by 2025.

The research from the MERGE Greenwich consortium, led by private hire operator Addison Lee Group, found that autonomous vehicle ride-sharing could replace 34% of journeys by private drivers, as well as up to 30% of taxi and private hire journeys in the capital.

“With the advent of connected and autonomous vehicles, there is now an opportunity to redefine transport in our cities and towns”

In total, up to one in seven trips within London could be served by an autonomous vehicle ride-sharing service within eight years, found the research – the equivalent of 2.5 million trips every day.

Autonomous ride-sharing services could also win up to a quarter of the total transport market by value – worth around £3.5 billion at today’s rates, the research estimated.

“The idea that one-in-three London car journeys could be replaced by autonomous vehicles by 2025 shows the huge potential in the sector,” said Addison Lee’s CEO Andy Boland.

The consortium – a group of six partners studying how autonomous vehicle ride-sharing could work and connect with London’s transport network – extrapolated the figures from work carried out in Los Angeles and Boston, as well as from the London Travel Demand Survey.

The other partners in the consortium, which is backed by funding from Innovate UK, are Ford, TRL, Transport Systems Catapult, DG Cities and Immense Simulations.

“With the advent of connected and autonomous vehicles, there is now an opportunity to redefine transport in our cities and towns,” said Trevor Dorling, Director of DG Cities.

“Offering modern, flexible and responsive mobility services that can be shared by the public is likely to reduce the cost to the consumer, reduce the number of journeys and vehicles on our roads - helping the environment and improving road safety.”

During the year-long project, the partners will deliver:

  • A plan for how autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing can integrate into public transport systems, focused on the London borough of Greenwich.
  • Advanced simulation and analysis to demonstrate how this integrated solution could benefit consumers, society and the environment.
  • Ideas on how to improve the efficiency of the way people travel around cities and how to reduce vehicle journeys and emissions.
  • Key requirements for a vehicle suited to an autonomous ride-sharing service.
  • A review of customer barriers to adoption.

The consortium will also develop a detailed commercial and business model demonstrating how an autonomous vehicle ride-sharing service might be brought to market and integrated with existing transport to create a truly multi-modal transport system.

“With some of the brightest British automotive and ground transport brains involved, the MERGE Greenwich partnership will pave the way for autonomous vehicles on the streets of London at scale,” said Paul McCabe, Addison Lee Group’s Director of Mobility.