DETROIT — Is there a disconnect between consumer demands and what the automotive industry is investing in? Center for Auto Research (C.A.R.) President and CEO Carla Bailo says Yes.
“We’re seeing a big improvement related to autonomous,” Bailo explained. “One of the biggest hurdles is getting that consumer trust. We have one bad thing happen and the trust will go below where it started. It has to be done very carefully before we see a proliferation of autonomous vehicles on the roadways. It will increase the number of miles traveled because the car is never going to stop. But where will it go when the vehicle is empty?”
The C.A.R. President and CEO added: “It will help with parking. We can change building codes. We’ll be able to clean up and create more green space. We need people to use many modes of transit include bicycles and their feet.”
Most automakers don’t have autonomous technologies as a competency, Bailo said. Companies can either home grow it or partner with somebody else. She believes it will only continue to grow.
The question becomes…will self-driving vehicles cause more suburban sprawl or more urban density?
“Most people don’t want to spend more than an hour. It takes away from personal time and life. The data is very strong is more sprawl is going to be less likely. Make those dense areas much easier.”
Bailo also talked about the increasing popularity of ride hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft.
“New mobility services are going to continue to expand. If you don’t provide enough options for people, they’re not going to change driving behaviors. People have to be secure they can get from A to B.”
Sales of electric vehicles are still very low. Do you expect that to increase as autonomous cars are rolled out for the first time?
“Several companies are marrying the two together very well,” Bailo explained. “Even though we have the proliferation of electrification. In the U.S. market we’re seeing that number fairly low. Global we’re showing about 8 percent. We’re seeing a lot of work being done in China.
“There are so many gaps that we need to fill to make mobility services and in battery electric. We needs system thinkers. We’re very siloed. With the number people of retiring and quickly having millennials replace them. The universities need to do a better job of teaching systematic thinkers. There is a chance that the technology will move to the part of the world where it’s needed and utilized.”
Bailo said that most Americans spend about $750 per month on their vehicle. That includes financing or leasing the vehicle itself, insurance, registration and licensing fees. The C.A.R. CEO said that most vehicles sit parked 95 percent of the time in a driveway or garage.
For automakers, profits are coming from CUVs and trucks. That’s what is driving the autonomous and self driving technologies. A recession could significantly delay the proliferation and deployment of those technologies.
What will be the impact of autonomous vehicles on the tourism industry?
“No one is really talking about that,” she answered. “Millennials, to them, the world is flat. It’s not exotic to go somewhere. They will fly there and take mobility services. It’s going to be a long time before you can travel out west in an autonomous vehicle all of the way.”
For more information about the Center for Automotive Research, visit http://www.cargroup.org/