Four-Year Lifespan For Self-Driving Cars

As large car manufacturers seek to reinvent themselves as ‘mobility companies’ in an effort to compete for global leadership in the growing autonomous driving sector, a Ford Executive has predicted that self-driving cars will only last four years.

Only Four Years?

The prediction of four-year lifespan for self-driving cars came from John Rich, the operations chief of Ford Autonomous Vehicles, in a recent interview with the Telegraph.

Why Four Years?

The idea that a driverless car will only last four years stems from the fact that these cars will be part of fleets that have continuous use and will, therefore, wear out more quickly.  Even though this may appear to indicate that car companies could make more money by selling new car replacements after only four years, this is not necessarily so because car manufacturers appear to envisage a future where they will become fleet operators that sell us fewer cars.

Mobility Company

Mr Rich’s prediction fits in with the idea that traditional car manufacturers such as Ford and Toyota say that they’re aiming to become ‘mobility companies’ that operate fleets of autonomous/driverless vehicles for other companies to use.  This could include the car manufacturers hiring the fleets out themselves, supplying the fleets for other companies to hire out, and getting involved in ventures with other operators.  For example, Toyota and Chinese autonomous driving company Pony.ai have recently teamed up in a US$600 million joint venture to explore mobility services and to help Toyota to become a major mobility company in China. Also, Pittsburgh start-up Argo AI is reported to be developing driverless cars for Ford and is testing the technology in five cities in the US.

The move by Ford and other manufacturers towards becoming mobility companies with autonomous fleets will see them compete directly with operators such as Uber.

Decline In Private Ownership

The prediction and vision from market analysts is that there will be a decline in private car ownership and the costs associated with that as consumers will prefer to use the widely available fleets of autonomous vehicles operated by the new mobility companies.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Traditional car manufacturers appear to see their future as mobility companies in a world where they and other businesses operate fleet services of widely available autonomous vehicles to business and individual users who will no longer need to own a car themselves. This is all part of today’s car manufacturers trying to get significant peace of global (in the developed world) market for autonomous transport.  If this future vision plays out as the car manufacturers and analysts predict, this will have a dramatic effect on businesses and markets along the car supply chain as well as the private hire and public transport markets.

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