Radical Changes in Automotive Coming Soon with Autonomous Vehicles ?

The age of Autonomy, Connectivity, Electric and Sharing (ACES) is upon us and promises to transform the world of mobility to a greater degree than even Henry Ford and the Model T did more than 100 years ago, according to a global report that begins with “Mobility’s Second Great Inflection Point.” It details how radical changes are coming faster and across more dimensions than the first “horses to cars” inflection point in the early 1900s.

“The characteristics of mobility at the second great inflection point will be significantly, not just marginally better,” authors Rajat Dhawan (Delhi), Russell Hensley (Detroit), Asutosh Padhi (Chicago) and Andreas Tschiesner (Munich) predict. “Electric and autonomous vehicles, more interconnected and intelligent road networks, new customer interfaces and services, and a dramatically different competitive landscape in which tech giants, startups and OEMs mix and mingle are just a few of the shifts in store.

“Radical improvements in cost-effectiveness, convenience, experience, safety and environmental impact will, taken together, disrupt myriad business models on an almost inconceivable scale,” Asutosh Padhi, senior partner and global co-leader of McKinsey’s Advanced Industries practice said.

“Just as Ford’s revolutionary Model T birthed entirely new industries ranging from repair shops to highway authorities to commuter railways, this new age of mobility will similarly bring transformations and innovations that will reconfigure the global economy,” said Russell Hensley, co-leader of the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility.

Recent McKinsey & Co. studies have found that among auto manufacturers, original equipment suppliers, tech giants and startups combined, more than $325 billion has been invested in ACES technology and research and development just since 2017 alone.

The effects of this staggering amount and pace of investment are both immediate and near-term.  According to the McKinsey report, Level 3 autonomy (drivers are able to completely shift safety critical functions to the vehicle) will be introduced in several high-end vehicles in the next 1-2 years, while in the commercial space, Level 4 autonomy (fully autonomous) could cover 60-70 percent of all miles driven in the United States before 2030.

In the connectivity space, technology advancements will soon shift the vehicle occupants’ experience from reactive to predictive, with personalized infotainment available through voice and hand gestures and connectivity systems becoming “virtual chauffeurs” – whereby cognitive artificial intelligence (AI) can fully anticipate and fulfill riders’ needs on a proactive basis.

The megatrends of ACES will also lead to cloud-based Vehicle Control Centers (VCCs) that shorten travel times, reduce road accidents and increase shared passenger trips; strengthen government mandates for electric vehicle production and sales; and spur cities and urban populations around the world to once again become vanguards for social change.

“In many ways, the story of the automobile and the story of the 20th century were one and the same,” the authors explain.  “The new narrative taking shape tracks the same dimensions – none of which will be resolved perfectly, but all of which will change rapidly for the better. The implications for transportation, for the broadening array of companies that will help provide it, and for business and society as a whole will help define the 21st century.”