COVID-19 puts brakes on driverless cars, says GlobalData

In recent years, the automotive industry has been addressing the megatrends set to transform long-term urban mobility and the industry, but the current crisis is now re-setting priorities, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.  

Calum MacRae, Automotive Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, comments: “Connected, autonomous, shared and electric (CASE) strategies were seen by car companies as elevating them to another plane in terms of being able to make money and bring their market capital up to the levels enjoyed by Silicon Valley tech companies.”

Very high levels of investment have been directed to advanced technologies in areas such as developing prototype autonomous/driverless vehicles, as well as vehicles with sophisticated driver assistance features. At the same time, GlobalData has seen the rise of the sharing economy and ride-hail firms such as Uber and Lyft, threatening the auto industry’s long-established business model.

MacRae continues: “Sharing provides the best use case for fully-autonomous vehicles. By eliminating the fixed cost of the driver, fully autonomous vehicles hold out the hope of much reduced cost per passenger-kilometre travelled. However, full autonomous is devilishly difficult and it does not look like level four and five vehicles will have a commercial solution in the next few years.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is an existential threat to the notion of shared mobility. Consumers may now think twice about the sanitization of shared mobility vehicles in this COVID-19 world.

MacRae adds: “Even more seriously, in these difficult times cash conservation is king for automotive companies. They are reining back on future mobility initiatives and returning to basics and products that will bring immediately realisable returns.”

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