Between expert’s progress and public’s fear: what’s the solution for the autonomous vehicle market?
As we said in our previous article Automotive industry: what can we expected of the future of this market? ,huge changes are coming for transportation. Historically, vehicle sales have been one of the most important indicators of economic well-being, but it’s seems like “sharing economy” and autonomous vehicles could change that during the next 5 to 10 years. Automakers must now consider that mobility is more like a service than a product. Furthermore, according to ARK, US classic auto sales will probably be cut in half by 2025 and can be justified by the promise of unbeatable cost and convenience on autonomous taxis or shared autonomous vehicles.
Global market situation: patent application a good gauge.
According to the EPO study (Patents and self-driving vehicles. The inventions behind automated driving; November 2018), USA and Europe lead the way for innovation on Autonomous vehicles. In 2017 they filed about 1400 patent applications. During the same period Japan filed 468 applications, closely followed by the Republic of Korea with 382 and the People’s Republic of China with 194.
In terms of companies we can see that Bosch occupied first place until 2017 out of the top ten applicants for patents in the autonomous vehicles technology race. Related to what the EPO study reveals on the top geographical zone leading the innovation on SDV, we observe that German companies lead the market.
Public opinion vs. Industry aspirations.
Even if we saw a 300,000 square foot floor space dedicated to driverless and auto technology at the CES this year (2019), the auto industry is continuing to pour billions into self-driving vehicles(SVD) and that many experts in technology and innovation are so excited about it, SDVs are still at a critical point in their development : between experts progress and public fears.
The 2018 Global Automotive Consumer Study from Deloitte on 25,000 consumers shows that half of them have doubts about the safety of autonomous vehicles. Only 39% of them think that automakers will bring the technology to market. Finally, 12% of U.S. consumers reported using services such as Uber and Lyft only once a week. This Number represents half the rate of a year ago. This information paired with the lack of trust compromises the vision of some enterprises like Waymo LLC, and more generally the near-term business case for the robo-taxi.
“Most of the automakers are chasing a business model that has yet to be proven—that elusive robo-taxi,”
Craig Giffi, head of consulting firm Deloitte’s U.S. automotive and industrial products practice.
However, some key opinion leaders remain optimistic about the topic. For example, Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett predicted in November 2018 that the market of SDV and other mobility related services could reach $10 trillion the years coming. Plus, according to IHS Markit, by 2040 annual sales of autonomous cars will hit 33 million and will represent more than a quarter of global vehicle deliveries. That’s why, after those expectations, automotive corporations are rushing to get robots on the road. This year, we expected to see General Motors Co.’s Cruise Automation debut its automated ride-hailing business in a U.S. city. And not so far into the future, by just 2021, we will see Ford deploy tens of thousands of self-drivers on the streets of multiple U.S. cities. Numbers of tests and demonstrations are already happening around the world, and we can feel that they have confidence in their vision of future.
This craze by the expert side having an important kind of reluctance than that of the public: considering that this industry is a major economic actor and an innovation leader around the globe, that it provides more than 13 million direct and indirect jobs in the European Union alone, internal changes scare people. Why? It’s logical, for making high technological cars we need highly qualified employees and technologies and less labor employees. According to an Oxford University study roughly 47% of all jobs in the U.S. labor force today will be automated by 2026.People are afraid to lose their jobs.
“fully self-driving cars will take much longer than people imagine,”
Sachin Lawande, CEO of auto parts maker Visteon Corp.
Autonomous vehicles: a goal further down the road.
Despite all that, challenges aren’t going to keep SDVs off the roads forever. The market and profit potential are too big to remove corporations from the game, and more important, the problems to solve with this innovation are too serious to stop carmakers and tech companies. Autonomous transportation can potentially improve road safety and comfort, bring us a solution on vehicle’s emissions impact on the environment, and finally, save millions of human lives.
Some challenges are persisting for the automotive industry to deal with like cyber security, the co-existence with other road users, managing interaction between SDVs, anticipation of future integrated mobility: vehicles, business models and solutions and off course prove the real environmental sustainability behind this. But we stay confident about the way companies are handling this. Real innovators are used to facing such challenges and know perfectly how to overcome them. For now, it seems that corporations in this sector have taken the decision to make the transaction through on semi-autonomous assistance for human drivers. Huge advances in innovation take time to be accepted by all, and in this case societal acceptance is a big factor affecting the success of driverless vehicles, so it’s wise to focus on autonomous technology working in cohesion with humans.