growing demand for ride-sharing services is giving rise to a new category of
vehicles. These are cars with a flexible interior that can be individually
tailored to the needs of their users. The potential for automakers is
considerable here, according to a report titled, "A new breed of cars:
Purpose-built electric vehicles for mobility on demand" by Roland Berger.
Roland Berger, founded in 1967, is the only
leading global consultancy of German heritage and European origin. With 2,400
employees working from 34 countries, the consultancy has successful operations
in all major international markets.
The report said that until
2020 the number of these purpose built e-vehicles could go up to about 1
million units, and then rise by 21% until 2025 and 14% until 2030. China is
expected to be by far the largest market for the new vehicle class, with a
market share of 60%, followed by North America (22%), Europe (13%) and MENA
Says Jan-Philipp Hasenberg, Partner at Roland
Berger, "This new type of car unites two of the key mobility megatrends in
one vehicle: ride-sharing and electromobility. "Vehicle manufacturers
should take active steps to get into this niche market now so that they can
establish a strong competitive position and get their customers excited about
the new models. One of the main drivers here will be China, which makes up at
least 60 percent of the market, but Europe and the United States will also see
their market for these vehicles grow as time goes on. Indeed, this is a key
growth market that no OEM can afford to ignore.
Wolfgang Bernhart, Partner at
Roland Berger says that "We anticipate the price per kilometer for using
these cars to come in at between 0.5 and 0.8 euros. These purpose-built
vehicles will therefore be among the cheapest means of getting around in a car.
The only thing that will be cheaper to use, at less than 0.3 euros per
kilometer, will be genuine robocabs without a driver."
By now it has become a common
view that the automotive market will gradually shift from vehicle ownership to
new shared mobility concepts within the coming decade. Mobility on Demand and
Mobility as a Service (MaaS) are the latest buzzwords. While this undoubtedly creates
headaches for executives in the automotive industry given that fewer vehicles
will be sold to end customers, it also opens up a new opportunity – a new breed
of purpose-built vehicles for shared mobility concepts, the study says. Ultimately
those vehicles will be fully autonomous vehicles or "robocabs".
While several players like
Waymo or GM have announced plans to launch those vehicles as early as 2019, a
more widespread adoption will most likely not occur before 2025. But vehicle
manufacturers have the chance to start producing a new breed of car now:
purpose-built electric vehicles for on-demand mobility solutions. Manufacturers
could gain a foothold in this new segment and in so doing gain valuable
experience that they can later profit from in the production of fully
autonomous vehicles, the study points out.
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Optimising vehicle concepts
for shared mobility requires a radical shift of focus, from driver experience
to passenger ride experience. It means designing flexible interior concepts to
support different use cases, concentrating on durability and serviceability and
including a significant amount of additional vehicle content, the study
reveals. Passengers value "quality time" during rides and will soon
expect to be able to request a vehicle with an interior design and facilities
tailored to their needs and moods – whether that is getting work done, catching
up on sleep or simply having fun with friends. At the same time, purpose-built
ride-sharing vehicles give automakers an opportunity to significantly lower
vehicle-to-market costs thanks to their shorter development times, lower
vehicle complexity and limited number of customers. This new breed of vehicles also
has implications for lifecycle management as they have shorter lifetimes and
their modular nature makes it easy to replace parts.
The Roland Berger report
points out that OEMs are busy working on designs for fully autonomous "robocabs". But
these vehicles are unlikely to enter mass production before 2025. In the
meantime automakers have a unique opportunity to capture the valuable new
market for purpose-built vehicles for on-demand mobility services – an emerging
segment that they cannot afford to ignore. If they can succeed in positioning
themselves in the game now, winning customers and building up valuable early
experience, they will be well prepared for the next step into the robocab universe.
When driverless technology finally arrives it will then be relatively simple
for them to take their tried and tested purpose-built vehicle designs and
basically replace the driver with the automated driving system, with user
experience of driving the vehicle already tested and optimised to a large extent.
This will put some OEMs ahead of the game
compared to other OEMs that have taken a more cautious, wait-and-see approach.
The report mentions that ride
sharing is on the rise. Dominating the new types of on-demand mobility services
is ride-sharing (also known as "ride hailing" or "ride for
hire"). Players such as Uber, Lyft in the United States and Didi Chuxing
in China do pretty much what taxis did in the past, moving passengers from A to
B in return for payment of a fare. However, the competitive pricing of these
new entrants and their focus on convenient service offerings has added a new
dimension to the traditional market.
Globally the market size for
ride-sharing services is now an estimated 50 million rides a day. China, where the
leading ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing provides an average of 25 million
rides a day, is showing remarkable growth. Current forecasts are that
ridesharing will represent 20 percent of total consumer transportation in the
country in 2018, compared to less than one percent in 2015. The market in 2018
will be worth around EUR 180 billion. This exponential growth is due to a
widespread lack of mobility, the result of China's limited public transit
capacity, insufficient taxi services and restrictions on the number of license plates
issued for privately owned vehicles. Indeed, Roland Berger estimates that
approximately 40 percent of demand for licensed taxi services in China is
currently unfulfilled, met instead by unlicensed taxis and public transit where
Today's traditional taxis –
with the exception of London's black cabs and JPN taxi (Toyota) – are little more than conventional
vehicles with a taxi sign on top. Purpose-built vehicles are a whole new ball
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