The autonomous car disruption is about to be disrupted

autonomous car
Image credit | AndreyPopov

It might come as no surprise but not many people would be willing to pay more – or at least a lot more – for an autonomous car than a traditional one.

In a global survey by AlixPartners, across six key markets and using a respondent base of 6,500 people, the report makes gloomy reading for automotive players thinking that they might get away with big premiums for autonomous offerings and make their money that way.

The stats read like this:

  • The Chinese are only prepared to pay an 8% premium for a fully autonomous vehicle (against the current semi-autonomous offerings)
  • Germany, on the other hand, would pay a 24% premium
  • If ride hailing or robotaxis represented a real cost saving, 84% of Chinese people would consider using such a service
  • Most Chinese and others said they would wait five years after the widespread use of autonomous vehicles before they would consider buying one
  • Most Chinese believe that autonomous cars are inherently safer than traditional ones.

Whilst this survey reads, the first time over, as pedestrian, the impact of these findings is potentially huge.

China is the largest automotive market in the world and the vast majority of its people would rather use a ride sharing service than buy a car. They would pay a tiny premium for an autonomous car – if they did choose to buy one.

And if that was not enough to send the traditional automotive executives back to the drawing board, they will wait for five years after the roll out of the first wave of autonomous cars – so, say about 10 years from now, at the earliest.

Whichever way you look at it, it is bad news for the automotive industry that thought it could carry on making, well, expensive cars. It looks like the market will not buy them.

It perhaps proves, if proof is needed, that the disruption in the automotive market is creating a fundamental misconception.

The automotive industry believes it is putting computers in cars. The tech industry believes it is putting wheels on computers.

Given the different cost structures and the two industries’ appetite for change and innovation, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who to put the money on.

While the traditional banks, sorry, automotive companies acquire and merge and try defensive move after defensive move, the tech companies are busy doing what they do best.


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