Global car sales could peak by 2024

The industry\'s boom time could be coming to an end.

Traffic jams and the advent of car sharing programs could put the brakes on the automotive industry's century-long growth spurt within the next 10 years, some analysts predict.

The auto industry has experienced tremendous expansion worldwide since Henry Ford introduced the Model T, but some industry experts predict that "peak car” - the point at which global sales growth will peter out - will occur sometime in the next decade.

Peak car will be the result of several factors, including the banning of automobiles by major cities, the rise of car sharing programs and a general shift to public transportation in urban areas. Although the exact point of peak car remains unknown, IHS Automotive predicts that the phenomenon could come on at about 100 million units.

If true, that would put a damper on the industry's expansion plans. Automakers planning to produce 120 million cars by 2016, which might not be feasible. Last year 82 million vehicles were sold globally.

Although new car sales aren't in danger of falling off dramatically in the near-term - at least not because of peak car - some analysts are already suggesting that automakers should change course and focus on mobility solutions rather than building cars and trucks.

"The key question is: Do you sell cars or do you sell mobility?” Tim Ryan, vice chairman of markets and strategy for consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, told The Detroit News. "If you ignore these megatrends, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant.”

Some automakers have already begun preparing for major consumer shifts. Several car makers are working on driverless technology and more and more OEMs are getting behind car sharing initiatives.

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