Study: Autonomous driving changes cities and auto industry

March 03, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The driverless car will have a disruptive effect on the automotive industry as we know it. A study from management consulting company McKinsey predicts that this achievement will create many new business opportunities for the automotive industry and will significantly affect many other industry branches such as logistics, insurance and urban planning.

"Though it will take quite a while until we see large numbers of driverless cars on public roads, carmakers should start to cope with the potential consequences. The companies should understand self-driving and connected cars as a disruptive technology which however bears massive business opportunities", says Detlev Mohr, head of McKinsey's European Automotive Consulting Services. Examples are infotainment offerings or individualised service offerings that give priority to the vendor's own repair shops. Such a feature would have a considerable impact on independent workshops.

The driving time freed up though the autopilot mode also holds great potential. "Every minute in the car when drivers have the chance to surf the internet offers a market potential of 5 billion euros per year", Mohr extrapolated.

The disruptive character of autonomous driving also imposes significant threats to the incumbent OEMs. New players, preferably from the IT and high-tech industries could utilise the period of upheaval to attack the entrenched business models along the automotive value chain. "Carmakers should consider which critical positions around the intersection of vehicle and software they intend to dominate in the long term," said Dominik Wee, co-author of the study and partner in McKinsey's Munich office. "Those OEMs who do not bet on autonomous driving must identify other differentiating features such as eco-friendliness, performance or an attractive price".

Autonomous driving, the study explains, will impact many more industries than just the automotive industry. The changes will affect entire industry branches and cities.

  • In controllable environments such as agriculture or mining, autonomous vehicles are already reality. They enable operators to cut labour costs by as much as 90% and CO2 emission reduction by 60%.
  • In combination with innovative mobility offerings like car sharing, autonomous vehicles potentially can alter the taxi and rental car business thoroughly. Over the past five years, the number of vehicles participating in car-sharing schemes grew by 30% annually, the number of users by 41%.
  • This also affects