‘Future are robot-cars and cars for pure pleasure’
The automotive sector is changing and with the future evolution of self-driving vehicles, the purpose of cars will change. It looks like the future of the car is twofold: robot-cars on one side, cars pure for pleasure on the other. Between the two, there will be not much else, the car industry itself is tempted to believe.
Manufacturers are working on this evolution. Going from carmakers to mobility service providers. Yet, the sector still needs to sell private cars to finance this progress.
With the issues of climate, safety and costs, the automotive sector is at the dawn of a new day. A day full of autonomous vehicles, self-driving robot-taxis and where driving has become something of a hobby. But we’re not there yet. The emergence of services, such as Uber, Lime or Lift, shows that economy doesn’t wait for the automotive sector.
In addition to young and ambitious start-ups, major car manufacturers want their part of the self-driving and shared mobility cake. BMW and Daimler recently announced a technological partnership for shared car services, autonomous and electric car development. Their point is to make an economy of scale to keep their head above water.
“Facing all theses changes and investment needs, some will not survive”, declared BMW CEO, Harald Kruger, at Geneva. Yet, to finance these changes, those manufacturers have to sell private cars. “Going from driving aids to autonomous driving technology will have huge costs that don’t make economic sense for private cars”, explains Carlos Tavares, PSA’s CEO.
It must also be taken into account that cars have relatively long product lives. Decades will pass from the moment when the first autonomous cars arrive on the market to when the main part of the fleet is self-driving.
For now, carmakers don’t want these new mobility revenues escaping their hands. They are preparing for a paradigm change, from cars to mobility. The paradoxical situation is that those investments toward new mobility are financed by the production and sale of private cars.