Autelligence’s February 2016 Survey of Prospects for Autonomous (Self-Driving) Cars

Autelligence’s survey of executives’ expectations for Self-Driving cars in February 2016 took recent statements about the future of self-driving cars from senior industry figures and asked whether respondents agreed or disagreed with them.

Autonomous Cars Are Really Important

There was widespread agreement with General Motors President Dan Ammann that “the future of personal mobility [is] connected, seamless and autonomous.” 37.5% of respondents strongly agreed, and only 14.2% of respondents disagreed.

Similarly less than 10% disagreed with the US Department of Transportation statement that vehicle to vehicle communications offered the opportunity to reduce vehicle crashes by 70 to 80%.

But while safety was expected to be improved by voluntary deployment of autonomous technologies, self-driving cars were not expected to become mandatory by many respondents: 31.8% disagreed with Elon Musk that one day virtually all new cars will be required to be capable of being operated autonomously.

And even among those who saw fully autonomous driving capability becoming mandatory, the average date expected for that was 25 years after introduction – in the 2040s.

Ramp-Up 2023-2028?

Only 11.4% of respondents expected the introduction for fully autonomous vehicles before 2020 – the average date was sometime in 2023.

And only 3.4% of respondents saw autonomous driving (defined as “Full Self-Driving Automation”) being mainstream (defined as “over 20 percent of new cars sold in that year in a major market”) before 2022. The average respondent saw that benchmark being hit in mid 2028.

But the feeling that major change was coming was widespread in the industry. Even executives that believed that change may not come soon were convinced that it will come eventually. “The new world will be defined by automated driving, in the future it will be an everyday feature of our life and it will completely change mobility,” said Herbert Diess, chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen, at CES in 2016.

But respondents did not agree about what the major barriers to the real-world implementation of autonomous vehicles would be – legal, governmental, technological, ethical and cost issues all had their supporters.

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Winners and Losers

The overwhelming majority (81.8%) of respondents agreed with the statement of Josh Hartung, CEO of Harbrick (Software technologies), that the jump involved in the move to autonomous vehicles is huge: “the sensors, computers and algorithms it takes to run an autonomous car are an order of magnitude in performance and complexity over what’s ever existed before in automotive,” he said.

And the change is expected to be disruptive. A majority of respondents to the Autelligence survey thought that self-driving cars would result in major change (39.8%) or be revolutionary (17.2%) for their businesses. Only a handful (6.3%) thought it wouldn’t matter to them.

The large first tier suppliers – like Bosch and Continental – were picked by respondents as likely winners from the shift to self-driving – followed by semi-conductor and software suppliers.

And the industry thought self-driving cars could be a challenge for the existing OEMs. Autelligence’s survey shows that while a significant number of people (39.1% of respondents) think that self-driving car technology offers “some benefits” to established OEMs, a higher percentage (36.9%) see self-driving cars as offering “some difficulties” for OEMs. The German luxury manufacturers and Toyota were seen as well placed, but still behind Tesla.

Google (Waymo) was also seen as very well placed – reflecting the fact that almost 50% of respondents saw the growth of self-driving cars are likely to result in major change for vehicle ownership patterns (including almost 20% that believe that it is likely to be revolutionary).

For more information on the survey download the pdf of the key results

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