The Strategist

How self-driving cars will change visage of the world's cities

07/21/2016 - 18:05

According to Boston Consulting Group (BCG)’s report, prepared jointly with the World Economic Forum, widespread of urban unmanned vehicles and robot taxi will result in 60%-smaller number of cars on the streets, exhaust emissions level fallen to 80%, and number of traffic accidents reduced by 90%.
The study surveyed more than 5.5 thousand consumers from the US, the UK, China, India, UAE, Singapore, the Netherlands, Japan, Germany and France.

"There are good reasons for spread of unmanned vehicles in large cities - said Nikolaus Lang, a senior partner at BCG and one of the report’s authors. -Electric robot taxi with the possibility of shared use can significantly transform and improve the urban transport system. Therefore, they will increase liveability of cities as they will improve accessibility of transport for more people, make streets safer and free up space by reducing demand for parking spaces. The main players - businesses, consumers and officials - are looking forward to these changes." 

Approximately 58% of consumers in cities around the world are willing to try the autopilots. The younger generation is showing the highest interest: 63% of consumers aged 29 years and younger want to travel on a fully autonomous vehicle, compared with 46% of people age 51 or older.

Unmanned cars gained the most widespread approval in developing countries. The two main causes of consumer interest are ease of parking and increase in productivity when driving. As for the question of who will produce unmanned vehicles, almost 50% of respondents rely on manufacturers of traditional cars. France, Germany and Japan showed the highest level of confidence in the automakers. The figure is lower in India, the USA and China.

Many consumers are willing to pay a premium of $ 5 thousand or more for a fully automated car. In France, India and Japan, every second consumer is willing to pay more for an unmanned vehicle. This willingness to pay additional funds is obliged to mechanism of the economy. The latter compensates for extra costs by potential savings of other spending, such as lower parking fees, saving on fuel and even cost of housing, if living far away from the expensive inner-city areas becomes convenient.

The study also held in-depth interviews with 25 representatives of the regulatory authorities of 12 major cities. About 60% of them expect that at least one city will ban ownership of traditional cars by 2025, partly after creation of robot taxi fleets.

"Our analysis clearly shows that combination of unmanned vehicles with sharing economy and electrification can bring considerable benefits to society - believes Michael Rüßmann, a BCG senior partner and report coauthor. Transition from internal combustion engines to electrical is crucial for reducing emissions exhaust in cities. In turn, car sharing in urban areas would help reduce number of vehicles on the streets. The autonomous technology is a key factor to significantly improve road safety. These three components – car sharing, autonomous driving and electrification - reinforce each other and contribute to a more rapid expansion of unmanned vehicles."