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Is the car industry about to change for good?

Car sharing: work to do on convincing people to make the switch.

In its  “Global Automotive Mobility Study”, experts from strategy, innovation and operations management consultancy Arthur D. Little shed light on the three megatrends of autonomous driving:  electric mobility and car sharing.

Over six thousand end consumers from 10 core markets of the car industry were surveyed, including in London and the UK. The results showed an industry facing massive changes. Enthusiasm for autonomous driving is reasonably limited with only one third of study respondents saying they would be willing to use an autonomous car. Likewise, prospects for e-mobility are not too bright; high prices, limited range and lack of charging stations being the main barriers. In addition, the claim that car ownership is no longer important to the young generation has been disproved.

For the UK, and London in particular, there is further insight into the challenges ahead, building on work already being done by, for example, the Car Club Coalition strategy, which is facilitated by TfL, and which highlighted key challenges for car sharing such as coordination of policy and governance, scale and reliability of delivery of new car sharing models, as well as awareness and visibility amongst the general public. This new study further emphasises the additional importance of addressing the end customer’s perceived views and needs.

Security concerns decelerate the autonomous car

Consumers are still sceptical about the industry’s biggest trend, autonomous driving.  One third of global respondents say they would use an autonomous car. In the UK that dropped a couple of points to  28% of respondents who said  they would use an autonomous car, 29% had doubts, and 40% do not consider it a possibility at this time.

“There is a huge communicative challenge in convincing reluctant customers about autonomous driving, even though in the long run, autonomous driving will significantly increase the amount of driven-passenger kilometres,” said Wolf-Dieter Hoppe, Associate Director of the Automotive Practice at Arthur D. Little. The team also highlighted the question of which companies customers ultimately trust to bring reliable autonomous vehicles into serial production. Although most of the car companies surveyed only enjoy high consumer confidence in their home markets, Google and Apple scored the highest in global reach.

Electric mobility has hurdles to overcome

There seemed to be a global consensus on electric mobility. The main obstacles preventing further breakthrough as highlighted by survey participants are still high prices (64%), limited range (53%) and an insufficient number of charging stations (41%).

Car ownership remains the ultimate token of status

The study also showed that the meaning of mobility in consumers’ minds is changing profoundly, particularly in the global megacities, where current problems may no longer be solved with classic concepts. Car-sharing and driving services will therefore play an important role in these areas. For a long time, one of the key assumptions of this development has been that the role of the car as a status symbol would decrease and the use of car-sharing services would increase. However, as  Hoppe pointed out:  “Car sharing won’t replace the private vehicle – it is still best seen as an additional mobility option.”