Britain gears up to profit from market in driverless cars

Britain gears up to profit from market in driverless cars

The value of the driverless car market is set to soar in the next four years as technology changes “the very concept of transport”.

The “connected transport” system of automated vehicles, state-of-the-art car sharing schemes and contactless payments on public transport will be worth £90 billion worldwide by 2020, according to PwC. Britain’s share will be worth £4.5 billion, 5 per cent of the total, an analysis found.

It represents a dramatic increase from £18 billion a year at the moment and underlines the extent to which technology will dramatically transform the transport system by the end of the decade, PwC said.

The move comes as Britain attempts to position itself at the forefront of the industry, with £20 million invested in trials of driverless technology in four cities this year.

Officials at the Department for Transport have also held talks with Google during the past two years to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicles.

Coolin Desai, of PwC, said that cars were already spaces where we can work, watch a movie or shop online. “The development of driverless vehicles will free us even further, he added.

“Guided by roadside and on-vehicle sensors, driverless cars will provide mobility to people who are too old or visually impaired to drive. And computer-controlled buses and cars, which are able to drive, say, six inches rather than six yards apart will vastly increase the efficiency of road networks.”

PwC analysed the value of key transport technology over the next five years. It focused on four areas: connected and autonomous cars, contactless payment for travel, car sharing, and bicycle-hire programmes such as the Boris Bike scheme in London.

It found that the market for in-car technology, including driverless vehicles, would grow by 30 per cent a year until 2020, peaking at £76 billion worldwide by the end of the decade.

Forecasts suggest that 31 per cent of new cars globally will have black box-style safety features within the next two years while 18 per cent will be able to link to motorists’ smartphones.

The study found that the market for contactless travel, when commuters use smartphones and bank cards to instantly pay for train and bus fares, will also grow at 60 per cent a year to reach £6.7 billion by 2020.

London is one of the world’s leaders in the field, with contactless payments in regular use on the Tube.

The study found that car and bike sharing schemes would grow by 31 per cent annually to reach £3.6 billion each by the end of the decade.

Mr Desai said: “We’re already seeing many tech-enabled new entrants disrupting the transport industry, so there is huge potential for growth in the sector and it raises questions to who will be best placed to take advantage of the opportunities connected transport brings.”