US and Germany speed ahead in early race to lead automated vehicles market

03 August 2016 6 min. read
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Ripe for disruptive innovation and set to change the world, the automated vehicles industry is brimming with potential. At present the US and Germany are masters of this exciting new space but a new report indicates that other markets are quickly catching up.

Automated vehicles (AV) represent an industry flush with potential, both for drivers and for the broader consumer and tech marketplaces. Autonomous cars have been presented as no less than a revolution in the worlds of transport, connectivity and smart cities.

Much is to be gained in securing a competitive advantage in the AV field. Leading global consultancy Roland Berger worked closely with Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen Aachen (fka) to produce their ‘Automated Vehicles Index’ for Q3 of 2016. Analysts measure the respective strength of nine countries with regards to technological developments by OEMs and AV’s degree of market penetration.

AV Index of industry and market

The US and Germany are clear leaders amid a generally competitive AV landscape. Germany excels in a broader range of categories, while the US can count on a deeper capacity in several specific fields. Sweden rates highly due to advanced AV market penetration, while France has strong research cards but little in the way of AV infrastructure.

The UK secures fourth spot in the rankings through all-round consistency, neither excelling nor slipping up across all metrics. China, Japan and South Korea lag behind the US and Europe on both the research and legislation fronts but increased spending could change that dynamic in the near future.

OEM activities in AV research and implementation

Tight competition between the US and Germany comes down to the distinction between industry and market performance. The US market excels, dominating the field in terms of absolute AV sales figures. German OEMs, however, can offer deeper technological capacity within a more advanced AV fleet.

AV Index of industry and market

Future disruption

US sales dominance can’t be taken for granted. Relative to total market share of vehicles, Germany’s AV industry performs better. In China car sales are soaring and expected to take newer AV models along for the ride, especially after 2025.  

AV index market potential for vehicles

Wolfgang Bernhart, Partner at Roland Berger, was also keen to stress that in 2016 the AV marketplace is a very incomplete puzzle, observing that “The entry of non-industry players and new start-ups could create an even more dynamic market, as could acquisitions or cooperations between high-tech firms and industry incumbents.”

Other crucial factors governing the AV space noted in the Roland Berger/fka report are the political dimension of legislation catching up with technological progress, and the growing connectivity divide between the US and Europe. The US is investing heavily in Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) based on wireless LAN, while Europe is preparing for the 2020 launch of a 5G network. The two technologies are of course complementary and will mark a dramatic shift in the way people and drivers communicate.