The impact of private autonomous vehicles on vehicle ownership and unoccupied VMT generation

Wenwen Zhang, Subhrajit Guhathakurta, Elias B. Khalil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


With 36 ventures testing autonomous vehicles (AVs) in the State of California, commercial deployment of this disruptive technology is almost around the corner (California Department of Transportation, 2016). Different business models of AVs, including Shared AVs (SAVs) and Private AVs (PAVs), will lead to significantly different changes in regional vehicle inventory and Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT). Most prior studies have already explored the impact of SAVs on vehicle ownership and VMT generation. Limited understanding has been gained regarding vehicle ownership reduction and unoccupied VMT generation potentials in the era of PAVs. Motivated by such research gap, this study develops models to examine how much vehicle ownership reduction can be achieved once private conventional vehicles are replaced by AVs and the spatial distribution of unoccupied VMT accompanied with the vehicle reduction. The models are implemented using travel survey and synthesized trip profile from Atlanta Metropolitan Area. The results show that more than 18% of the households can reduce vehicles, while maintaining the current travel patterns. This can be translated into a 9.5% reduction in private vehicles in the study region. Meanwhile, 29.8 unoccupied VMT will be induced per day per reduced vehicles. A majority of the unoccupied VMT will be loaded on interstate highways and expressways and the largest percentage inflation in VMT will occur on minor local roads. The results can provide implications for evolving trends in household vehicles uses and the location of dedicated AV lanes in the PAV dominated future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-165
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
StatePublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Transportation
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Management Science and Operations Research


  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Unoccupied VMT
  • Vehicle ownership


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