Chinese keenest for autonomous driving, with sleep at top of the agenda

18 September 2018 Consultancy.asia

An international survey of residents in China, Japan, Germany, France, and the US has revealed that the primary attraction of autonomous driving for nearly half of all respondents is the opportunity for additional rest and relaxation, with Chinese nationals the most enthusiastic for some additional chill time.

The ‘Enabling the Value of Time’ survey report, which canvased the thoughts and preferences of 2,500 consumers across three continents to assess the implications for the interior design of autonomous vehicles, has demonstrated that, perhaps contrary to the projected boost to workday productivity that autonomous driving will deliver, the majority of the hands-free passengers of the future are keenly anticipating the chance for some additional personal time.

Carried out in conjunction with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, the survey was conducted by Stuttgart-based strategy firm Horváth & Partners in collaboration with the fellow member firms of its global management consulting alliance Cordence Worldwide, which among its ten members include Key to Way of South Korea, Genex Partners of Japan, Avalon, which operates in Singapore and India, and Chinese product innovation firm S.POINT.

Building from the simple premise that “if technology can take over the task of driving, people will gain time,” the Cordence study firstly sought to determine how the generally time-poor commuters of the world would like to spend those bonus hours, and rather than simply give them over to employers – with estimates of up to 2 to 5 percent of national GDP lost in some parts of Asia due to heavy traffic congestion alone – the majority of respondents wished to capitalise on the windfall with some extra personal downtime rather than being productive.What do users preferably do in an autonomous vehicle?As a breakdown, over 46 percent of the survey participants pointed to ‘sleep and relaxation’ as a major attraction of autonomous driving, followed by other leisure pursuits such as entertainment (~40%) and eating and drinking (~38%) – well ahead on average compared to the ~36 percent who cited ‘working and being productive’. And when considering China alone, the desire for sleep and relaxation shot up to over 60 percent – with the Chinese leading the way across all categories, including by a significant margin for ‘working and being productive’ and ‘eating and drinking’.

The results, in respect to the Chinese, are perhaps not surprising, with the report citing an earlier study which found that 92 percent of Chinese respondents believed that autonomous driving would become a reality, while nearly three quarters of Chinese participants in the Cordence survey stated that they were looking forward to autonomous driving functions – although the results somewhat contradict a KPMG study from earlier this year, which found consumer acceptance for autonomous driving to be lower in China than in Germany, the US and France.

Still, while perhaps not surprising, or even conflicting (the Cordence results correlate broadly with the Chinese enthusiasm for other disruptive automotive developments, such as leading the globe in electric vehicle market development, and for the adoption of shared mobility models), the results are certainly significant with respect to the future interior design market – with the Cordence report noting the some 23.7 million passenger car registrations in China in 2016. The Chinese respondents, too, were the most willing to pay handsomely for added equipment options.

In this respect, the top Chinese preferences for autonomous driving add-ons revealed an interest in a broader range of innovative equipment options as compared to their global peers. Like elsewhere, ‘sleeping and relaxing’ was the favoured usage type – which corresponded with the top add-on interests in China being a comfortable seating position and a quiet journey. Yet, the values for these options were significantly lower than the overall average, while options such as full-body massage or a surface for applying make-up were much higher.

Autonomous vehicle preferences depending on the number of passengers

The survey also uncovered a quirk unique to the Chinese respondents; they were the least concerned about altering their behavior with respect to travelling alone or with additional passengers. Globally, there was a wide divergence in positive responses to each category depending on the number of passengers, with the 62 percent who suggested sleeping and relaxing was okay alone dropping to just 41 percent if in the presence of another, while engaging in entertainment shot up from 35 percent to 65 percent.

The Chinese results on the other hand showed very little variation, with every category steady within a few percentage points. S-POINT’s Managing Director Georgios Marketakis, said of the apparent anomaly; “A significant number of China’s consumers live with three generations of family members. It is normal for them to look for bigger cars (such as SUVs) and to use their cars for a range of purposes. It therefore makes sense there is only a small distinction between their responses regarding the number of passengers.”

Altogether, the report concludes; “With a view to the development of automotive markets, China can become a leading market for automotive innovation. This is supported by users’ high level of interest in autonomous vehicles and regulatory framework conditions. Both with regard to private vehicles and sharing fleets, companies operating in the market have the opportunity to adapt their range of products and services to the specific demands of the Chinese market.”

Beijing and Tokyo emerge as serious tech hub rivals to Silicon Valley

12 April 2019 Consultancy.asia

As Silicon Valley struggles with a number of institutional issues, the location of the world’s top tech-hub may ultimately change – with Beijing and Tokyo emerging as serious contenders according to a survey conducted by KPMG.

Now into its seventh edition, KPMG’s Technology Industry Innovation Survey quizzed over 700 global tech executives on their thoughts on the future industry landscape – revealing that for the first time more than half of the respondents (58 percent) believe Silicon Valley will no longer be the technology innovation center of the world in just four years from now, with Beijing and Tokyo seen as two possible usurpers.

“Many factors affect a city’s perception as an innovation hub, including favorable government policies and incentives, accelerators, tech parks, corporate investment, state-of-the-art infrastructure and, in all cases, at least a few highly successful and wildly popular success stories,” said Peter Laco, an Executive Director at KPMG in Slovakia, of the previous survey.Top contenders for the next world-leading technology innovation hubWhile New York remains the most touted hot-spot among respondents, Beijing and Tokyo landed in the second and third spots as likely contenders for the global tech-hub crown, with seven Asian cities featuring among the top dozen; Shanghai (in equal 5th, but overtaken by Beijing), Taipei (in joint-5th as a notable riser), Singapore and Seoul (at 7th and 8th) and Hong Kong, which rounded out the top dozen. Shenzhen, meanwhile, has dropped outside the top 20.

With access to talent and quality infrastructure remaining key attributes for a successful hub, the report states that, despite all the positive business factors present in Silicon Valley, “an escalating cost of living, questions about diversity and corporate cultures, high business taxes, an overmatched infrastructure, and even increasing scrutiny into data privacy and other business practices are contributing to the perception that Silicon Valley may not continue to dominate.”

Still, the US (which also featured seven cities among the top 20) as a whole is still considered the country expected to produce the most disruptive technologies in the coming years, maintaining its top spot ahead of China despite a narrowing of the gap by two percentage points on last year (to 23 percent against 17 percent). The UK meanwhile has gained some separation on Japan in fourth, while Singapore, South Korea and India appear among the top ten.Countries that show the most promise for disruptive technologyTo gain further insight into the likelihood of a burgeoning tech-hub reaching the peak of the global pecking order, KPMG analysed the results of the survey against a range of other city indices, including A.T. Kearney’s 2018 Global Cities report and Mercer’s Quality of Living rankings – identifying Singapore as the most consistent Asia Pacific performer across the board, with Tokyo, Seoul, and Hong Kong lagging in a variety of areas.

“The belief that Silicon Valley will be displaced as the leading hub underscores the continuing decentralisation of technology innovation, spurred by investment in other cities and regions globally, as well as contributing factors in Silicon Valley,” says Tim Zanni, KPMG’s global technology sector leader. “Even when faced with pressing issues that call for funding, cities and countries are carving out significant investment to become a technology innovation hub due to an expected broad economic impact.”