Autonomous vehicle development strategies explored
IHS Markit perspective
- Implications: Players from inside and outside the traditional automotive industry are using their relative strengths, resources and company visions to develop company-appropriate strategies for the development of autonomous vehicles.
- Outlook: The strategic decisions made now will provide the basis for decades forward. This is not a sprint to be the first to launch a commercially viable autonomous vehicle, although being first is attractive; instead, the industry is in preparation for a marathon that has not started yet.
As the industry moves forward towards deployment and commercialisation of autonomous vehicles (AVs), four components (autonomous, connected, electric and services (ACES) technologies) will come together to deliver a disruption in how we consume transportation. In fact, each component is following unique development paths, timelines, and strategic implementation. Players from inside and outside the traditional automotive industry are leveraging relative strengths, resources and company visions to develop company-appropriate strategies.
Three strategic approaches from traditional automakers and tech companies are emerging. Some are going it alone, acquiring necessary technology and talent not already under their roof. Others, including disruptive tech companies, are focusing on the development of specific AV technologies, logic and platforms - especially software elements - that can be scaled across vehicle types, segments and automakers. This route enables participation in the mobility business (and data collection opportunities) without entering the capital-intensive and unforgiving vehicle manufacturing arena. Third is the partner model, where automakers, tech companies and suppliers are working together to develop a system each can apply in their own fashion to support individual business models. In each case, there are cases of collaboration simply because the AV space is multi-dimensional, incredibly complex, and highly interdependent.
The strategic decisions made now will provide the basis for decades ahead. This is not a sprint to be the first to launch a commercially viable autonomous vehicle, although being first is attractive; instead, the industry is in preparation for a marathon that has not started yet. The marathon will start with commercialisation of these vehicles and AV systems. The latest IHS Markit AV forecast projects global sales of about 33 million autonomous vehicles in 2040 - including only fully-autonomous SAE Level 4 and 5 vehicles which hold the most promise for mobility services - the equivalent of about 26% of global vehicle sales. Although the strategy chosen today will have significant impact, near-term deployment is just the training phase.
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