Autonomous Cars

The rise of autonomous driving

Jon Oxtoby

Alex Knight

30 Oct 2019

When you read predictions such as that one in five miles travelled by consumers in the UK could be automated by 2030, it’s apparent change in our automotive world is both phenomenal and just a decade away.

Such estimates from the Society of Manufacturer and Traders in its ‘Connected Report’ published earlier this year also states that connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) is ‘arguably the greatest change to how we travel since the invention of the motor car’.

The UK is undertaking major autonomous driving trials in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Milton Keynes and includes projects looking at regulation and insurance in preparation for automated vehicles on public roads by 2021.

Meanwhile, the SMMT reports that in the next decade current driver assistance technology and the next generation of autonomous systems are expected to save 3,900 lives and create 420,000 new jobs with more than half (55%) being high skilled new automotive Jobs. With an annual £62 billion economic benefit expected for the UK by 2030, the forecasts also suggest opportunities will be generated.

Whilst many of this new-found business and jobs will be in the development of new systems and infrastructure, there will also be a need for a maintenance and repair sector with the skills, training and qualifications to be able to deliver high quality aftercare for vehicles fitted with these systems.

Whilst the pace of change is fast – a decade isn’t that far away, after all it only feels like yesterday when the sector was reeling from the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis. The widely held view is that full automation or Level 5 is unlikely before 2035, but we will continue to make great strides along technical and regulatory roads to make that possible throughout the 2020s.

Effectively, we will see an increase in more advanced driver assistance features on vehicles which will continue to impact various areas including safety, convenience and cost. Shared mobility services such as taxis and shuttles, is one such area of development whilst a reduction in collisions, which will directly affect the bodyshop, parts and repair market, is another. It is estimated that there will be a 15% reduction in all collisions across major markets, including in Europe and North America, in just 10 years of the introduction of Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) being mandated in Europe, expected between 2021 and 2025.

Already major manufacturers are incorporating Level 2 driver assistance features on its cars. It includes steering, acceleration and braking assistance when driving on motorways and dual carriageways with leading OEMs like Audi, BMW, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla and Volvo providing these on its vehicles today. Even though it may just be a few models or variants with such systems, by 2030 these will be fitted on more than 30% of all vehicles sold in the UK.

The question for workshops and independent garages is ‘how do we fit into this shifting landscape?’ Of course, we don’t have a crystal ball so we can’t make predictions with absolute certainty, but as ever in a fast-evolving sector, those who don’t change risk being left behind.

Faced with the imminent impact of wider adoption of EVs with the accompanying reduction in maintenance requirements and the additional training required to work on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), forward-thinking workshops are already making preparations to ensure they are able to stake a claim in the near future of vehicle aftercare. Areas which we have tackled previously on our blog, but what of the more far-reaching impact of CAVs?

We will be exploring developments and opportunities in forthcoming blog posts, firstly exploring what consumers think (don’t kid yourself that they are not taken with the idea of autonomous vehicles, research suggests they are up for it) and the potential opportunities for aftersales.

Topics: technology, dealerships, automotive, consumers, dealer, driver assistance, ADAS, autonomous

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