Autonomous By 2012

April 25th, 2012
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We have covered the invention and strides of autonomous vehicles over the past two years. The head of GM’s R&D team is confident that only eight years from now, 2020, we will see the release and integration of autonomous electric vehicles.

What does this mean for big oil? What does it mean for automotive manufacturers? What about mechanics? What about car dealerships? Most importantly, what does it mean for us consumers?

Well for starters, big oil will always have business as long as the supply lasts. Petrols are used for a great many things beyond fuel. Not to mention food distribution and any large trucking industry will still require diesel fuels. That being said, we all know that big oil can easily invest, acquire, and buy into any new transportation medium.

For auto manufacturers, things are a little more complex. The manufacturers that are willing and able to adapt, will prosper and continue to generate revenue. Primarily the majority of profit loss can be attributed to the changing and updating of manufacturing plants.

Mechanics will have a similar issue. The majority of what they know about vehicle maintenance will need to be retrained. Career mechanics will find work within the semi-truck and construction equipment industry. Training for certifications on new vehicle maintenance will be necessary.

The auto-trade and dealer industry had a down turn when the economy headed south. Does that mean autonomous vehicles, electric, hybrid or otherwise, will effect sales? Ideally, the only thing that will change is that they will be carrying new inventory.

Lastly, and most importantly, what does this mean for consumers? Under the assumption that eventually everyone will be driving autonomous vehicles, the obvious upside are safer road conditions. However, this does raise a lot of concerns. If we have fully autonomous vehicles on the road with good old fashioned manually operated vehicles, isn’t that going to be more dangerous?

There are obviously a great many questions that we can not answer until these vehicles are truly on the road. But we can speculate problems in acceptance, what happens if the vehicle breaks down, how much will they cost and will they sell. Will the government set mandates for vehicle reform and require electric autonomous vehicles? Only time will tell.

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