Roland Berger study: Autonomous driving in the truck segment will help reduce road accidents and cut the total costs of ownership

  • Roland Berger study demonstrates that self-driving trucks increase road safety and reduce the total costs of ownership
  • Legal and liability questions remain to be resolved
  • Considerable changes in the value chain are anticipated
  • Truck OEMs and suppliers need to position themselves in the market now
  • New players like software suppliers are going to play a significant role in this market

Munich, 27-3-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — Autonomous driving in the truck segment will help reduce the incidence of road accidents in the future and cut the total costs of ownership. More and more automated functions will therefore gradually find their way into the commercial vehicle market. Legally, autonomous driving is not going to be possible on Germany’s roads until 2025. But it’s important now to clarify the future liability situation for OEMs, suppliers and drivers in the event of an accident occurring in spite of well engineered solutions. This is one of the findings of the recent study, “On the road toward the autonomous truck – Opportunities for OEMs and suppliers”, by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.

“Though there are still a number of legal questions outstanding, OEMs and suppliers should be sure to seize this market opportunity in good time and use it to expand their own model range and product portfolio accordingly,” explained Roland Berger Partner Sebastian Gundermann. “In the future, new providers like software suppliers are going to come in and claim a substantial part of the value chain. Traditional market players will find themselves under considerable pressure as a result.”

Safety and cost savings are the drivers of development

Four megatrends are going to transform the truck industry in the period through 2025 to make it efficient, green, connected and safe. Today, over 90 percent of all collisions are the result of human error, the main cause of accidents on Europe’s roads. The European Commission has therefore mandated that all newly registered commercial vehicles must be equipped with lane departure warning systems by the end of 2015 and from 2018 onward they will need to be fitted with advanced emergency braking systems.

Advanced driver assistance systems could reduce truck-related rear-end collisions by more than 70 percent. “The role of connectivity in trucks is growing all the time, with legislators keen to increase safety on the roads and substantially reduce accident rates,” commented Sebastian Gundermann. Advanced driving systems also yield the possibility of cutting costs – lowering fuel consumption, for example, or reducing non-operational time.

New value creation potential for OEMs and suppliers

Truck OEMs and suppliers now face the important job of developing these systems and making them available. As they do so, the value chain in the commercial vehicle industry is set to become even more nuanced in the coming years. OEMs will be able to purchase function-specific automation solutions such as cruise control and emergency braking systems from their suppliers. To make this possible, the supply industry will need to develop the necessary software solutions and sensor technology and make it available. More complex systems that combine several automation functions in one, such as adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning systems, offer good business opportunities for truck OEMs, suppliers and specialist engineering service providers alike.

Experts do not expect to see fully self-driving trucks going into mass production until some point after 2025. Aside from the appropriate legal framework, major technological advances will also be required for this to happen – particularly with respect to capabilities for processing the data received from the sensors. At that point, commercial vehicles will need to be capable of understanding their immediate environment so as to be able to react as necessary. Standardized “brain modules” will therefore become established, which OEMs will be able to adapt to their specific vehicle models. “Economies of scale and standardization will be crucial in that phase,” predicted Roland Berger Partner Gundermann. “Big software producers with a background in robotics may well have an opportunity to make inroads into the commercial vehicle industry as a result.”


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