Driving Miles Disappear by the Billions

Work from home and online orders are eroding trips, and experts predict those habits will endure.

July 17, 2020

NEW YORK—Online shopping and working from home are the new normal, a move that will decrease U.S. driving by as much as 270 billion times annually, according to a new study by KPMG International, Bloomberg reports. Even if a vaccine becomes available, Americans indicated they would continue at-home work and ordering supplies online.

Fewer commuters will keep 14 million cars from U.S. roads, the study predicted, while also forecasting as much as a 10% permanent drop of the nearly three trillion miles typically driven each year. “This is terrible news for the after-market, where a lot of profits are being made,” Silberg said. “Fewer cars driving fewer miles means less wear and tear. These will lead to profound changes.”

Vehicle ownership will also decrease to slightly less than two cars per household. These habitual changes could trigger a million fewer new car and truck sales each year. For the past five years, each year, Americans bought more than 17 million light trucks, SUVs and cars.

“People buy a car to get to and from work and because shopping is a very important part of their lives,” said Gary Silberg, head of KPMG’s global automotive practice. “If two of the primary missions that the American public buys a car for are going to reduce in demand, we know that’s going to have an adverse impact on auto sales. It’s just like gravity.”

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