Germany and US driving ahead in automated vehicles market

03 August 2016 5 min. read
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The promise of automated vehicles are relatively futuristic. Not only would they massively reduce road accidents, emissions and inefficiencies, they would also free up space in congested cities and in peoples’ time. The development and implementation of varying automated vehicles technologies by automotive OEMs varies across the globe. A new report considers the maturity of nine markets across a range of metrics. German and US OEMs come out on top.

Automated vehicles (AV) promise to provide drivers with a range of benefits and features, from improvements to safety, through improved breaking, to assisting with parking and congestion. Automation technology for vehicles, on the back of the interests of a range of stakeholders, is expected to see fully automated vehicles sometime beyond 2025. The effects of fully automated vehicles will be stark, with projections by some analysts suggesting that accidents will be reduced by 90%, fuel use by 80% and the number of cars on the road by 60% (due to their improved utilisation, current cars spend up to 95% of their time idle).

In a new report from Roland Berger and Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen Aachen, titled ‘Automated Vehicles Index’, the firms measures the maturity of different global market places, and analyses and compares the strength of OEMs in AV within nine countries. The research looks at the technological development from countries’ OEMs and related research and the market penetration of AV, focusing on the size of demand for system, types of systems, as well as legal frameworks governing such vehicles.

Spider graph of AV strength by country

Top nine
The research highlights that Germany has the best overall competencies in a range of categories. The country is particularly strong, relative to others, in the overall availability of functions. The state of development of AV in Germany also remains strong, at a similar level to the US and far out ahead of the number three placed Sweden. The number two placed US has particular strength in the level of available expertise for AV and the share of research areas. Sweden performs well on the market share of AVs within the country, as well as share of research areas.

The UK, taking the number four spot, lags behind its competitors on all metrics. The state of development of AV within the country is very low, with few available functions. China and South Korea are both improving their relative positions, on the back of increased investment – with South Korean universities keen to spur development in the area. France is strong on the research front, but lags behind on getting the tech on the road.

AV Index of industry and market

Granular Index
In a more fine grained comparison, ranking industry performance vs market performance, the Germans lead on industry, while the US outperforms on market. In terms of industry, Japan has managed to take the third spot away from Sweden, even while Sweden remains far out ahead in terms of market share. The UK remains a middle of the road player, with a relatively good market share but sub-par industrial involvement.

OEM activities in AV research and implementation

The research finds, in terms of the availability of different AV functions as well as their incorporation into new vehicle fleets more generally, that Germany is again well out ahead. In the US, the number of functions available remains limited and are only incorporated within a few models. In Japan, OEMs are seeking to increase the number of safety related AV functions in cars, pushing up volumes. Sweden continues to have a relatively robust level of AV features in its fleets, and continues to test new AV features for future implementation. Italy and the UK remain laggards in the state of development.

AV Index automated vehicle expertise

While the UK is behind in a range of metrics relative to its more agile peers, Germany, the US and Sweden, it is performing relatively well in terms of the level of available expertise into AV, on par with Sweden and only slightly behind Germany. The number of areas of research covered by UK R&D into AV continues to lag behind the forerunners, however, although it is well ahead of China and South Korea – even while South Korea has managed to substantially improve its position on that of previous rankings.

AV index - market potential for vehiclesAccording to the research, the US is well out ahead in terms of absolute sales figures. China too, where new car sales are ramping up, has one of the largest AV fleets in terms of absolute numbers. Germany has a considerably larger share of its auto market fitted with AV, while its sales figures remain constrained by its population. Sweden, however, takes the number one spot in terms of AV market share. The UK comes in fourth in both categories.

According to Wolfgang Bernhart, Partner at Roland Berger, the market as a whole remains relatively immature, with the possibility that, beside OEMs, "The entry of non-industry players and new start-ups could create an even more dynamic market, as could acquisitions or cooperations between high-tech firms and industry incumbents.”