FUTURE OF TRANSPORT
THE EARLY stages of a transition to autonomous vehicles (AVs) is under way. S&P Global Ratings admitted as much in a report released yesterday titled The Road Ahead for Autonomous Vehicles, where it referred to the commercial rollout of “hands-free” features on some premium vehicles this year.
However, S&P believes the mass adoption of driverless AVs is still decades away.
It referred to the pedestrian fatality in March this year by an Uber autonomous test vehicle, adding it highlighted both the significant technical challenges and limitations with this transformative technology, and the many practical, technical and moral questions that needed to be resolved prior to its mass adoption.
S&P said full-scale testing of self-driving vehicles without human control was under way in cities globally by a number of companies.
BMW Group confirmed this week that it had become the first international carmaker to obtain the autonomous driving road test licence in China, marking a big step on its path to autonomous driving.
It officially obtained the Shanghai intelligent connected autonomous driving test licence, issued by the intelligent connected vehicle road test promotion team, consisting of Shanghai’s municipal commission of economy and informatisation, Shanghai’s municipal public security bureau and Shanghai’s municipal transportation commission.
BMW said this achievement underlined its leading role in the development of autonomous driving in the Chinese automotive industry.
The test sites in Shanghai currently cover a total distance of about 5.6km, but this was planned to grow quickly over time.
BMW Group said the test fleet was based on the latest BMW 7 Series models, starting with two operating vehicles this month and adding up to seven vehicles by December in China.
S&P believes fully autonomous vehicle penetration would be influenced by and significantly lag of electric vehicles.
It expects the market growth of electric vehicles could approach a 10 percent share of US light vehicle sales by 2025 compared to 1.1 percent at present, which was behind its forecast of a 25 percent share in Europe and 20 percent share in China.
S&P has a low and high disruption scenario for the adoption of AVs.
Its low disruption scenario only foresees advanced AVs with a 2 percent share of light vehicle sales by 2030, rising to 10 percent by 2040.
However, S&P said that should “the revolution” follow their high disruption scenario where AVs comprise a 30 percent share of light vehicle sales by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050, “the effects on society will be profound and far-reaching”.
“Semi-automated to fully autonomous all electric vehicles share the road – augmented by ride-sharing technologies and TNCs (transport network companies) – are likely to alter how cities are designed, grow and function, affecting where we live and work.
“AVs will introduce life-saving and ultimately labour-saving technologies, while fundamentally altering the movement of people and goods, disrupting business models along the way,” it said.
But S&P stressed that the trajectory of AV growth was complex and unpredictable, because it faced hurdles beyond technology and cost.
It believed the growth of AVs would lag that of electric vehicles, based on the inherent advantages of electric vehicles, including lower maintenance cost, because of fewer moving parts, zero emissions and lower operating costs per kilometre.
While electric vehicle growth was primarily determined by battery cost developments and supporting infrastructure, S&P said AV growth faced many hurdles beyond technology and cost.
These included legal and regulatory developments, consumer acceptance and human behaviour, public opinion on safety and liabilities, and taxation and infrastructure funding.
S&P said the initial growth phase of AVs was likely to lead to more congestion, because conventional cars would have to interact with AVs, which would also likely be regulated in a conservative manner.
“This new dynamic could increase the number of vehicles miles travelled
BMW Group confirmed this week that it had become the first international carmaker to obtain the autonomous driving road test licence in China, marking a big step on its path to autonomous driving. This is its Vision Next 100 concept car.