Driverless Cars

The autonomous vehicle – no longer a distant vision of the future, but a real prospect for our roads and an opportunity for fresh economic growth.

Autonomous vehicles

The UK Government outlined in the Queen’s Speech for 2016 that Britain seeks to lead the world in autonomous vehicle testing. The initial plan to introduce driverless cars and lorries to UK roads in 2017, with a view to paving the way towards nationwide introduction as soon as 2020, is already happening, with limited tests in Greenwich and Milton Keynes having already taken place.

The focus on ‘driverless’ cars is on what they lack – a driver. Often this misses what they enable – Barclays wanted to look into how the era of driver-free transport could transform the world around us, from increased productivity to supply-chain efficiencies, transforming communities and improvements to personal mobility.

What we found is an exciting new future where cars could be bought based on how well they integrate with your work emails rather than how well they handle; where trucks are able to run in land-trains meaning significant logistical cost-savings and where suburban roads are freed from their perpetual car-park status into green shared spaces for pedestrians and vehicles.

0.7 cars per household

The sharing economy is likely to position car rental firms in a prominent position to benefit, with inner-city car share services like Zipcar and DriveNow particularly well-placed to be among the biggest beneficiaries. When a car can drive itself to where you are, the need to own your own car could be rapidly diminished, with at the very least the number of multi-car families to decrease significantly – we estimate that car ownership will decline from 1.2 cars per household in England today to 0.7 cars per household once autonomous vehicles are the established norm.

While estimates suggest that in the era of driverless cars vehicle ownership could decline, those vehicles that are on the road are likely to run a significantly higher mileage than they do today. This is because they’re likely to spend more time travelling between pick-ups with no one on board at all. This means that the demand for new vehicles to replace these is actually likely to remain much closer to today than one might at first imagine.

Accidents caused by human error

94% of accidents are caused by human error, meaning autonomous vehicles are likely to reduce the number of deaths and injuries in road accidents significantly. This in turn could bring motor insurance policies down dramatically, but there remain fundamental questions over where liability may sit; in the short-term the insurance industry recommend that we will still need policies to cover us for both autonomous and ‘traditional’ vehicles, but that legislation changes to allow insurers to recover costs from manufacturers in the event of the car being at fault would be required.

We hope that this report will help you start to consider some of the possibilities and opportunities for your business as driverless cars become a reality.

Read the full report here PDF 3.09MB† and if you have any questions, get in touch with your relationship director and mention this report.