A Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan, equipped with Waymo’s technology. Picture: FIAT
A Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan, equipped with Waymo’s technology. Picture: FIAT

A quarter of all miles driven in the U.S. could be in shared, self-driving electric cars by the end of the next decade, setting off a seismic shift that will upend the auto industry, according to a study on the rise of the autonomous age.

A convergence of three trends -- ride sharing, autonomous driving and vehicle electrification -- will drive the shift, the Boston Consulting Group said in a study released Monday. The change will be most profound in cities with more than 1 million people, where consumers will find it more economically advantageous to exit their personal vehicles and start hailing robot taxis.

“The automotive industry is on the brink of a major transformation, and it’ll be here faster than people realize,” Justin Rose, a BCG partner leading its digital efforts for industrial companies, said in a statement. “For millions of Americans living in large cities, the next vehicle they purchase may be the last car they ever own.”

Auto companies will face wrenching changes as more than 5 million conventional cars are replaced by an estimated 4.7 million autonomous electric vehicles by 2030, the consulting company said. A typical Chicago consumer could cut his commuting cost by $7,000 a year by ditching a personal car in favor a shared autonomous electric vehicle, BCG said. That trend will make car dealers “less relevant” and turn “hundreds of billions of dollars worth of industry assets” into liabilities, BCG said.

The consulting firm projects that as many as 925 billion miles (1.5 trillion kilometers) traveled in the U.S. in 2030 will be in shared, self-driving electric cars. The shift will begin gradually in the early 2020s and could happen even faster if innovations in technology and breakthroughs in pricing accelerate.

“Automakers and parts suppliers would face the most profound challenge to their business models in a century,” BCG said in a statement. “This shift undermines the current industry business model.”

Development Race
Automakers and tech companies are racing to put robot cars on the road. Tesla Inc., BMW, Daimler AG, General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Volvo Cars have promised to produce fully autonomous cars within five years, as they work to overhaul their business models. Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving car unit, Waymo, is working with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans and is in talks to put its technology into Honda Motor Co. models.

But BCG contends companies aren’t moving fast enough to keep up with the rapid pace of change that is coming.

“Few players are taking the bold steps needed to position themselves to thrive in this not-too-distant future,” said Brian Collie, an author of the study who heads BCG’s automotive practice. “The time to act is now.”

- Bloomberg


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