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World’s oldest consultancy claims new car tech will change auto manufacturing

Arthur D. Little, which claims to be the world’s first consultancy company, predicts how future mobility solutions will affect automotive manufacturing.

In a new report, The Future of Automotive Mobility, the company says – somewhat surprisingly – that the future vehicle technology will depend less on consumer preferences than government regulations.

The company draws its conclusions on a global survey of 6,500 participants, including customers, industry players and regulators. Its research examines how the megatrends of electric mobility, car sharing and autonomous driving are likely to impact on the global automotive ecosystem and future original equipment manufacturing sales. 

The report notes that the future of mobility will no longer depend primarily on the preferences of customers, but will increasingly be driven by regulation as cities seek to resolve traffic-generated problems such as congestion and poor air quality.

Electric mobility, car sharing and autonomous driving solutions all have an important role to play in meeting these challenges. However, the effect on traditional OEMs’ production volume may not be as severe as some experts have predicted, claims ADL.

For example, a key component of autonomous driving will be “mobility-on-demand” solutions, in which customers use “robot taxis.” Based on real mobility data from almost 100 mega-cities, ADL simulated the effect of robot taxis upon mobility behavior and car sales.

The findings revealed that even with total market coverage, their effect was not as bad as the predicted worst case scenario.

Klaus Schmitz, partner in ADL’s automotive division, explains: “In a moderate scenario, in which 11 metropolitan regions implement the new form of urban mobility by 2030, global vehicle sales will rise to 121 million vehicles a year, a 39 per cent increase compared to today.

“In a progressive scenario of 52 pioneer cities, sales will amount to 119 million vehicles, a 34 per cent increase.”

The report details how new roles are being created in the automotive-supplier pyramid, with the shift to the electric drive train and the increasing importance of software being additional factors to consider.

However, a major challenge for manufacturers is the loss of direct access to the mobility customer, says ADL.

Wolf-Dieter Hoppe, author of the study and associate director at ADL, says: “Millions of individual customers will be replaced by a few very large, multinational fleet operators.

“These could take over the dominant role of OEMs in the ecosystem, as they would have direct customer access as well as considerable volume power. In particular, this would be a problem for today’s premium manufacturers.”