#CES2016 proved (again) how autonomous cars can be ready to market much earlier than Governments and consumers are. Technology seems not to be a big issue (autonomous engineers might disagree about it), specially if we see how big car automakers are confident in showing their new products.
We all know about Tesla autopilot-mode, Volkswagen had a keynote speech about how the management is shaping a new company for electric, connected, smart and autonomous driving range of products. Mercedes just been licensed to drive autonomous E-Class in Nevada roads, FaradayFuture showed a great concept car, not a production one and not even really close to their real plan, which aims to deliver new models since 2017, with autonomous driving in their path.
Toyota showed long term concepts cars and Ford CEO talked much about new regulations required as the industry is ready. General Motors after investing $500mln in ridesharing company Lyft, just unveiled the new Bolt. Even those companies not exhibiting at the CES made rumors about this coming future technology. Next-EV grows in San Josè R&D facility. The company team won the first ever world Formula-E championship last year and they think global with facilities in US, Europe, China. I can’t miss to mention Alphabet new tailored company Google Self Driving car further than Apple Car project that everyone knows about (.. but please don’t talk much as it’s a secret). I apologize if I don’t dive in describing Nissan pilot projects and Volvo existing self driving cars in Goteborg, but I only remind that the first ever self driving car fleet comes from Italian Parma University R&D company Vislab that drove (actually they didn’t) more than 13.000km from Milan to Shanghai in autonomous driving back in 2010.
Too many news… confirm that industry is almost ready, so what’s next? If we all believe that products will be enough to make the market, we’ll be terribly wrong. Further than that the overall car industry needs to point few more milestones to shape a new mobility business case:
Regulations. Detroit announce by US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx about the 4B plan to set standard rules and promote self driving technology was the right think in the right moment (and at the right place, being at NAIAS show).
Market(ing). Are we really sure people will accept so easily such a disruptive new technology? Probably new generation does, Millennians already prefer sharing mobility more than ownership, but there are more adults on the streets than young ones driving around. It took years to make people familiar in using an electric car.. and you are still driving them. I am highly passionate about new technology so I know industry has to be forward thinking through a new smart approach to self driving cars. Marketing strategies will soon become a key issue to success into this new business industry and certainly it’s a different game compared to sell cars.
More comments to come, stay tuned.- Carlo