Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and fka Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen compare relevant automotive nations’ competitive positions in automated driving

  • New index compares relevant automotive nations’ competitive positions in automated driving (Germany, France, Italy, UK, Sweden, USA, Japan, China, South Korea)
  • Comparison is based on two key indicators: the industry and the market
  • Germany and the US lead in the development and market launch of (partially) automated vehicle functions
  • Top American universities share the lead with Germany and Sweden when it comes to expertise in the research fields relevant to automated vehicles
  • US currently offers the most favorable legal framework for the future licensing of mass produced automated vehicles

Munich/Aachen, 25-8-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — Few topics on the automotive agenda dominate industry thinking like automated driving. The complex, highly automated or fully automated control of vehicles not only presents a technological challenge for traditional OEMs – the huge amounts of software required and the enormous quantities of data that need to be processed mean that growing numbers of non-industry players like IT companies are also involved and are putting OEMs under pressure. Whether or not automotive nations will be able to claim the top spot is dependent on two key indicators: firstly the industry, in other words the state of development of the vehicles produced by national automakers and the R&D support provided by universities or research institutes. The second factor is the market, i.e. its size along with the prevailing legal framework. In the “Automated Vehicles Index”, the automotive experts from Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and fka Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen combine these indicators and compare the competitive positions of the key markets.

“Our new index enables us to compare the competitive positions of the main markets based on a standard set of indicators,” said Wolfgang Bernhart, Partner at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. “We are then able to identify the opportunities and threats facing the individual nations.”

Germany and the US lead the index

German OEMs are currently leading in the development and market launch of (partially) automated vehicle functions, followed by the US. “German OEMs occupy this leading position in the industry indicator primarily because many of them offer partially automated driving functions not only in premium models but also in the volume segment,” said Bernhart. In the US, on the other hand, these functions are restricted to the super-premium segment. This may be partly a result of the fact that traditional US automakers lag behind German OEMs on technology. Not least due to the fact that the influence of non-industry players is particularly great here: “In the US, technological innovations come not from the automotive industry but from firms like Google or Uber,” said Bernhart.

Germany and the US are followed in the ranking by Sweden’s automotive industry, which also offers a broad range of driver assistance functions in mass produced vehicles. They have a special focus on innovative safety technologies. “Active safety systems will become standard even in volume models and they will therefore be a decisive competitive factor for all OEMs,” explained Christian Burkard, consultant at fka.

French and Japanese OEMs fill the midfield positions in the ranking. In spite of the high standard of technological development in their models, their vehicles are seldom equipped with automated driving functions. OEMs from the UK, Italy, China and South Korea occupy the lower ranks, offering virtually no automated assistance systems at all.

Germany must improve its expertise even further

OEMs that wish to stay competitive long term need to continue to increase and broaden their expertise in the research areas relevant to automated driving, these being sensors, vehicle intelligence, connectivity, digital infrastructure, and testing/safety features. The US, Germany and Sweden lead the pack on this count in the industry indicator. Nevertheless, German universities have some significant catching up to do against top US universities in certain research fields, which will necessitate systematic funding of the discipline in general.

USA offers attractive legal framework

The US, Germany and Sweden also lead in the market indicator, based on sales figures of vehicles with highly developed driver assistance systems. The gap to the other countries is substantial: While the UK does manage to make it into midfield, France, Italy, Japan, China and South Korea have not yet achieved any successes to speak of and are situated at the lower end of the ranking.

“Innovations and new technologies are going to move the technological realization of partially or fully automated vehicles forward in the coming years,” said fka expert Burkard. “Where it gets trickier is with the legal situation – the framework that permits autonomous driving in the first place. Lack of clarity regarding liability is still a major issue in the event of an accident or how national and international law can be harmonized.” If we consider the prevailing legal framework today, the US and Germany lead the overall ratings in the market indicator. Many OEMs and IT firms go to the US particularly to test their prototypes, where the requirements for the licensing of test vehicles are clearly defined. With a view to the future licensing of mass produced automated vehicles, less restrictive standards apply in the US than the ECE regulations in force in Europe. Roland Berger expert Bernhart is therefore keen to see a single set of standards introduced globally and implemented in practice. “This is one of the most crucial conditions for getting autonomous vehicles on the roads.”


SOURCE: Roland Berger Strategy Consultants GmbH


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