"As of 2017, the global taxi market was worth $108 billion. Yet, recent models developed by UBS predict the global market could be worth in excess of $2 trillion per annum by 2030."

Mass disruption in the automotive industry is imminent. Since the widespread manufacture of the automotive vehicle the industry had remained, until ten years ago, reliant on one-time vehicle sales and after-market repairs [1] to produce the majority of its annual profits. This has changed with the development of new business models and technological advancements that together comprise the four disruptive factors defined by McKinsey’s 2016 report on the “automotive revolution.” These are:

  • Diverse mobility (the ability to use differing modes of transport, from train to electric scooter)
  • Autonomous driving (vehicles’ ability to function without human assistance
  • Electrification (the viability of electric vehicles as opposed to internal combustion engines)
  • Connectivity (services that link vehicles either to other vehicles or other software systems from navigation to entertainment).[2]

Individually, these disruptive factors don’t constitute substantial threats to the industry’s incumbents. However, their combined ability to reshape the landscape of mobility, especially in urban settings, is staggering. Furthermore: “most industry players and experts agree that these four technology-driven trends will reinforce and accelerate one another.” [3] Even back in 2011, the results were clear. This was the year Lawrence Burns and Bill Jordan devised a model to calculate potential savings in the United States alone that a shared, autonomous, electric fleet of vehicles would generate: [4]

 

From purchase to petrol to time spent in vehicle, the average cost of owning and operating a car in 2011 was approximately $1.50 per mile, amounting to almost $4.5 trillion spent per year on automobiles in the United States alone. Disruptive technologies, Lawrence and Bill calculated, had the potential to reduce average vehicular costs to just $0.20 per mile, including the cost of the self-driving system and associated maintenance. The result: almost $4 trillion saved per year across the country, or savings up to $16,000 per person per year.[5]

The shared, autonomous, electric fleet Lawrence and Bill devised is unlikely to materialise in the near future.[6] However, by 2030, the industry will have taken several steps in that direction. McKinsey estimated the automotive sector would generate at least 30 percent of its revenue, or $1.5 trillion, by 2030 from so-called “recurring revenues,” comprising car-sharing, e-hail, and trip-by-trip rental services, as well as connectivity services. [7]

"As of 2017, the global taxi market was worth $108 billion. Yet, recent models developed by UBS predict the global market could be worth in excess of $2 trillion per annum by 2030."

For the consumer, the benefits will be numerous. Take the taxi industry, for example. As of 2017, the global taxi market was worth $108 billion.[8] Yet, recent models developed by UBS predict the global market could be worth in excess of $2 trillion per annum by 2030, presupposing a global transition to shared, autonomous, electric fleets (referred to as “robo-taxis”). [9] The incentive is there to invest in the transition. For the consumer, this will directly lead to lower prices. Lawrence Burns and Bill Jordan calculated the average cost of an NYC taxi trip to be $5 per mile, with an average journey amounting to $8, plus tip. A robo-taxi fleet would reduce costs to just $0.50 per mile, resulting in an average trip of $1 for the consumer (assuming a direct correlation of associated costs).[10]

Additionally, consumers will benefit from the more varied and competitive mobility sector of the future. Today’s sector is dominated by incumbent car manufacturers who compete against one another. 2030’s market will be a Venn diagram of e-hailing and car-sharing services, specialty car companies, and software developers, in addition to incumbent car manufacturers.[11] The resultant competition will further lead to cost reductions for the consumer as well as more profits being reinvested in the pursuit of better service provision.

Meanwhile, in urban areas ranging from mid-size towns to dense urban cities, the robo-taxi fleet of the future, it is estimated, will require far fewer vehicles to service the population’s needs—roughly 15 percent of today’s vehicles, to be exact. [12] The benefits to the consumer range from reduced time spent in traffic to reduced emissions. Additionally, to maximise the potential profits from the switch to automation, infrastructure, especially in urban areas, will need to develop. In 2030, it is probable nearly 10 percent of miles travelled on U.S. roads will be conducted by robo-taxis; this could well skyrocket to 50 percent by 2040. America, as with all countries embracing the automotive revolution, will need to prepare for their arrival on the commercial field.[13]

"As of May 2019, barely 40 percent of U.S. roads met the requirements for a "good ride"."

The development and maintenance of autonomous vehicle (AV)-friendly infrastructure will provide further benefits and additional employment opportunities for consumers. As of May 2019, barely 40 percent of U.S. roads met the requirements for a “good ride.” [14] All those roads that did not meet these requirements will need to be repaired before AVs are able to traverse them safely. In cities, specialised garage spaces and charging docks will need to be built to accommodate the robo-taxi fleets. The added space made available from 85 percent fewer vehicles could meanwhile be converted into public spaces and parks, to name but a few options. The extent of direct monetary savings available to the consumer from the industry’s transition is unclear at this stage. However, to quote McKinsey: the benefits that the automotive revolution “could bring to society and the environment could be beyond price.”[15]

 

[1] IBM [2] McKinsey & Company [3] McKinsey & Company  [4] Lawrence D. Burns: Autonomy: The Quest to build the Driverless Car – And How It Will Change Our World [5] Lawrence D. Burns: Autonomy: The Quest to build the Driverless Car – And How It Will Change Our World [6] Victoria Transport Policy Institute  [7] McKinsey & Company  [8] MarketWatch  [9] Bloomberg [10] Lawrence D. Burns: Autonomy: The Quest to build the Driverless Car – And How It Will Change Our World [11] McKinsey & Company  [12] Lawrence D. Burns: Autonomy: The Quest to build the Driverless Car – And How It Will Change Our World [13] McKinsey & Company [14] McKinsey & Company [15] McKinsey & Company