The trends transforming mobility’s future

Four trends - autonomous driving, connectivity, the electrification of vehicles, and shared mobility- are disrupting how we move about in ways not seen for 100 years. We call what's happening mobility's "second great inflection point".

The trends transforming mobility’s future

An autonomous future

Today, nearly every auto OEM and major supplier has an AV project in the works, and dozens of traditional competitors vie with tech upstarts for pole position. The McKinsey Centre for Future Mobility estimates that revenues associated with AVs in urban areas could reach $1.6trn a year globally in 2030—more than two times the combined 2017 revenues of Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

The effects on society could be more transformative still. If the US fully adopted autonomous vehicles, the benefit to the public would exceed $800 billion a year in 2030 as a result of redeveloping unnecessary parking spaces, more productive commuting time, and safer roadways (avoiding the millions of fatal and non-fatal accidents caused each year by human error). A comparable analysis of Germany showed that self-driving vehicles could save the country €1.2bn a year by 2040 through lower costs for hospital stays, rehabilitation, and medication alone.

Shrinking insurance premiums, increased alcohol consumption and falling revenues from vehicle taxes are among potentially less positive second-order effects.

A Connected future

Many manufacturers and suppliers already access a wealth of vehicle data to improve or refine their cars and services, and possibilities for other players abound. By using vocal commands or miniature holographic waiters, for example, restaurants could offer menu options and preordering for hungry lunchtime travellers.

The potential for greater connectivity stretches from today’s increasingly common data links between individuals and the hardware of their vehicles to future offerings of preference-based personalisation and live dialogue, culminating with cars functioning as virtual chauffeurs. Our surveys indicate that 40% of today’s drivers would be willing to change vehicle brands for their next purchase in return for greater connectivity.

Insurance is one sector that could benefit. Much of the value of more advanced forms of connectivity would arise from the diminished risk of insuring a driver (through, say, sensors able to detect driver fatigue).

Companies aiming to take advantage of such opportunities will have to organise themselves around new, customer-centric business models and be open to partnerships, particularly with digital giants and innovative start-ups.

An Electric future

Global sales of EVs surpassed the one million mark (1.3 million) in 2017, and we forecast that sales could rise to as many as three million vehicles in 2020. More than 20% of all potential buyers now say they would consider an EV for their next purchase.

Keeping electrification on this growth path will require an aggressive pace of manufacturing gains and innovations, particularly as governments seek to wind down subsidies. We estimate that the manufacturing cost gap for the average EV is currently $8,000. If today’s technology trends continue, battery costs will decline by 50% by 2030—a big deal, since batteries represent one-quarter of today’s EV cost premium. As the gap narrows, more companies will gain the confidence to step up investments in native EV platforms. That will both provide for higher-performing vehicles, which are more attractive to consumers, and encourage cross-model platform sharing, which gives Internal Combustion Engine production its cost edge.

Vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells – an alternative to batteries – have already begun trickling into select markets across Asia, Europe, and North America. Producing hydrogen is costly but becomes more economic for heavier vehicles and longer-range journeys.

A Ridesharing future

Ridesharing’s market share is still comparatively small; in the United States, the largest providers together account for only about 1% of total vehicle miles travelled (VMT). Using your own vehicle is still the cheaper option for the 90 to 95% of US car owners who drive more than about 3,500 miles a year.

Globally, $55bn has been invested in the ridesharing industry in the past seven years. The US now has approximately 10 metropolitan areas that generate $500m or more in yearly ridesharing revenues, and compound annual growth rates are north of 150%. Perhaps most significant, data suggest that ridesharing’s most important demographic—urban adopters—are fundamentally rethinking their attitude to car ownership.

Ridesharing companies can increase both the total number of trips users take and the average number of miles per trip by providing shopping trips, deliveries, trips with children, group nights on the town, and shared commutes. Cost effective design improvements – adaptable and reconfigurable vehicle interiors that make rides more comfortable and more accessible – also offer a way forward.  Tapping those opportunities, indeed, can help put ridesharing on a trajectory toward 7 to 10% of VMT by 2030. Achieving just a 2 to 3% share of VMT would increase ridesharing revenues by almost $40bn.

The second great inflection point will soon be upon us, with its implications for individuals, companies and the whole of the transport industry becoming more and more clear. The four trends outlined above – autonomous driving, connectivity, the electrification of vehicles, and shared mobility – show how disruptions are shaping today’s society and how they can contribute to a sustainable future.

Kersten Heineke, partner, McKinsey

Comments (1)

  1. Ian Byrne says:

    A rather US-centric view, especially in the final section on shared mobility, which should be a whole lot more than just ridesharing. Improved connectivity around public transport, including more real time information on matters such as delays (already quite good for trains) and train seat (or bike rental) availability is likely to have a bigger impact on the future of mobility than "miniature holographic waiters".

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