Asian nations rise up global autonomous vehicle disruption rankings

12 December 2018 4 min. read

New technology in the car space will see considerable shifts in how vehicles operate, as well as how they are used, a new report from Roland Berger has found. Autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles and different mobility options are set to disrupt one of the central consumer products in the global market, with the firm’s analysis showing Asia is currently well out ahead.

Cars remain a key cost post for many people. Yet various inefficiencies result in relatively high costs, from underutilisation to the price of fuel. In recent years, the development of digital platforms has opened up new mobility options, while new power trains and autonomous technologies will bring significant reductions in negative externalities, such as emissions and accidents.

The transformation of the automotive industry however is only beginning, with different countries at different stages of enabling or exhibiting new technologies. To understand the changes in landscape, the global strategy and management firm Roland Berger has analysed recent progress in a number of key markets around the world, including China, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.

The research shows that overall China is now the furthest ahead in terms of its development in the space as a whole. The country now rates at 58 percent on the firm’s scoring metric (the Autonomous Disruption Radar), up from 45 percent eighteen months ago, and five points ahead of the next best performer, Singapore – which together with South Korea have displaced the Netherlands from top spot. Japan has likewise improved its scores.Country score in the ADR over last 18 months

By and large, the research shows improvement across the board, with Singapore and South Korea jumping by around 10 percentage points, Japan up around 8 points, and the US achieving a similar increase in score. Germany, by all accounts a forerunner in the energy transition, has seen only a slight 2 percentage point improvement to its score – which is calculated using 26 industry indices. No country has seen a decline.

Overall, the past 12 months has also seen few areas in decline, while technology and customer interest have seen advances. Autonomous vehicle preference has increased, while there is also slightly more digital cultural preference in the space. Restrictions on internal combustion engines (ICE) are increasing across the various jurisdictions, while regulations affecting electric and autonomous vehicles have improved.

In the technology space, computing power has increased for autonomous vehicles, patent activity continues apace, and the cost of batteries continues to fall. The number of electric vehicles (EVs) on offer has also increased, reflecting growing buy-in from manufacturers, many of which have rolled out new ranges – with some pledging to produce only EVs in the near future, and others facing increasing pressure from regulators.Transportation trends across the world

The study also shows the continuing shift away from vehicle ownership and toward other mobility concepts – due to increasing costs, particularly petrol, as well as changes in social expectation. Three quarters of people in China know someone who does not want to buy a car and uses other mobility options as their only form of transport, while in Singapore that number hit 80 percent in the latest survey.

Singapore, in general, is heavily into public transport as well as demand driven forms of transport. When questioned on the modes of transport used over the past two weeks, over half (55 percent) of the kilometres travelled in Singapore were by public transport, with a further 15 percent via demand-driven modes like car sharing, ride hailing, and taxis. For the US, these figures were basically reversed, with 65 percent of distance covered by car.

As to the overall rankings, the report notes China’s cultural acceptance of disruption in the automotive industry and improvement in spite of the country’s huge roadwork, summarising; “China surged ahead thanks to its leading market position in electric vehicles, accounting for more than half of the 700,000 EVs sold worldwide. It also benefited from a more open regulatory environment.”