Fleets of autonomous vehicles are coming to roads near you sooner than ever, thanks to strong US and Chinese interest, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Auto Remarketing discussed the results of a recent study by automotive research firm IHS Automotive that anticipates global annual sales of almost 21 million self-driving cars by 2035 — and almost 76 million of these cars in the global auto fleet by then.

This estimate shows much higher sales than IHS previously predicted due to a number of factors.

“Global sales of autonomous vehicles will reach nearly 600,000 units in 2025,” said IHS Automotive research director Egil Juliussen. “Our new forecast reflects a 43% compound annual growth rate between 2025 and 2035 — a decade of substantial growth, as driverless and self-driving cars alike are more widely adopted in all key global automotive markets.”

IHS sees China as becoming a dominant region for purchases of self-driving cars in the long term, with 5.7 million of the vehicles in the country by 2035. China’s role as world-leading technology market will help drive the autonomous vehicle market there.

IHS pointed to extensive early adoption of autonomous vehicles in the US as another factor. The report cited increased popularity of car sharing programs in America that will result in more than 4 million autonomous vehicles on US streets by 2035.

Massive investments being made

As well, the report said that Tokyo’s preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympics will boost self-driving car purchases, amid large investments that could bring significant numbers of connected cars to Japanese roads.

Underlying the strong expansion prospects of autonomous vehicles are the massive investments being made in the technology by players both inside and outside the automotive industry. And it is this mix of venerable car makers and new technology upstarts that is proving to be such a potent catalyst for innovation in self-driving cars.

“Future mobility will connect and combine many different modes and technologies, and autonomous vehicles will play a central role,” said IHS Automotive principal analyst Jeremy Carlson. “Those [automotive companies] who don’t adjust to a changing world will unfortunately be left behind, or will at least face a very different industry.”