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Waymo outpacing Tesla, Uber

Hi Future Fans,

It’s about time to move away from AI and back to other topics!

Self-driving vehicles is a topic that I cover here fairly regularly. I do, however, find a lot of variance in the predicted timeframes for self-driving cars to become commonplace. These timelines have to do with regulations as much as the technology itself, and recent fatal crashes by Tesla and Uber are not helping to sway public and government opinion towards a rapid deployment.

Given the uncertainty, one great area to keep an eye on is vehicle orders, and we’ve turned a corner there. Uber took a bit of a gamble late last year by placing an order for 24,000 Volvo XC90 vehicles. Since then, Waymo (part of Alphabet) has made two large orders – for 20,000 Jaguar I-PACE vehicles and 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica minivans. These orders are a very clear indication that meaningful self-driving services are imminent, at least in places like Pheonix or perhaps Dubai, where local regulations will support the establishment of these new self-driving industries.

Aside from the timeline indications, we’re also seeing the start of the new car ownership dynamic. Over the longer term, it’s likely that individuals will mostly stop owning vehicles and will instead utilise highly effective self-driving car sharing services. Interestingly, this firmly thrusts the car manufacturers towards a B2B world, where very large orders are made by a small number of transportation companies, as opposed to the usual small orders to individual consumers. I have to imagine that this will put a great deal of pressure on manufacturer margins, and the car companies will need to look towards post-sale revenue streams.

In any case, the future is clearly coming!

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