Self-driving Cars: When Will the Average Person Be Able to Afford One?

Morgan Stanley predicts that self-driving cars will be commonplace by 2026 and everyone will have one by 2046.

Although full market-penetration is still a long way off, it’s comforting to see that future technologies like self-driving cars are set to make a major appearance within 15 years.


Many companies are racing to release autonomous features in their new models. Some of the big players are Tesla, BMW, Ford, Volvo, the infamous Google Priuses, and Nissan. Some of these features include allowing the car to park itself and smart cruise control that will keep you in your lane and at a safe distance from the car in front of you. These are features that are available now! And they’re only getting better!

From Frank Diana’s blog, here is a timeline of recent announcements and releases:

  • In December 2013, Ford unveiled a self-driving research car – a modified Fusion Hybrid ($30,000 aint bad for self-driving features)
  • Volvo announced the 2017 intro of 100 AVs in Gothenburg Sweden
  • Google has a fleet of fully autonomous Priuses and will release its technology in 2018
  • Nissan announced in August the first “commercially viable” self-driving system by 2020
  • GM, Audi, BMW, Tesla and others, also have AVs in development
  • The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class will be the first car on the market fully capable of driving itself

So it looks like the trend is moving towards semi-automation in most vehicles but full automation is still a long way off. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggested this five step process by which to look at coming to fully self-driving cars.


Given all this, when should you bite the bullet and hop on board the auto automation bandwagon? I’d wait until the car has at least three automated functions such as parking, cruise control, and coffee-making (alright the other two are serious) with a price tag under $20,000. How long will that be? This future-technology lover says 2017-2018.

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