Over the past decade, automakers and companies such as Uber and Lyft have been optimistic about emerging technologies in transportation. But after years of hype, carmakers and technology companies have been slow to deliver on ambitious promises of self-driving cars and electric cars. Industry experts expect all-electric vehicles to move ahead of self-driving cars due to regulatory concerns, costs and other factors, but even in this area progress has been slow.
In addition to the test phase and limited pilot projects, self-driving cars are not on the road, and electric vehicles, while already commercially available, have not yet been widely adopted.
Both the auto industry and the transportation industry see these two areas as trillions of dollars in business opportunities. They tout these technologies as creating a safer and more environmentally friendly way of transporting. Tesla, General Motors and others have announced that future auto accidents and emissions will be significantly reduced, or even zero.
Companies are expected to invest more in both technologies over the next 10 years. Earlier this year, a report by AlixPartners, an international consultancy, estimated that auto manufacturing would spend $85 billion and $225 billion on autonomous driving and electric vehicles by 2025.
Making and rolling out driverless cars is easier said than done. There are significant security and regulatory barriers to this technology, as well as unforeseen technical barriers.
In 2018, an Uber self-driving test car was involved in a fatal accident involving pedestrians, greatly undermining the momentum of the rapid development of self-driving cars. The death of the pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg, was the first known fatal accident involving a self-driving car.
As a result of the accident, Uber stopped testing for several months and self-driving cars as a whole came under intense scrutiny, continuing to have a ripple effect on the industry.
GM said in January 2018 that it planned to deploy self-driving cars on a large scale in 2019, but the company postponed the launch last July, saying more tests were needed.
Other companies have announced early targets for the next decade. Ford expects to have a commercial self-driving car business by 2021; Hyundai motor is setting up a $4 billion joint venture with Auto supplier Aptiv, with the goal of launching self-driving cars by 2022.
Earlier this year, Musk said Tesla expects to have 1 million self-driving taxis on the road next year. He also predicted that within two years, Tesla would produce cars without steering wheels and pedals, which current safety regulations do not allow.
Volkswagen, Volvo and others have discussed plans for self-driving cars or related services, but did not give a specific timetable.
Over the past decade, almost all major carmakers have pledged to introduce all-electric or “electrified” cars in the 2020s.
General Motors, Volkswagen, Nissan and others have announced plans to sell 1m or more all-electric vehicles worldwide each year during the 1920s. Other companies, such as Toyota, have announced similar “electric vehicles”, including plug-in hybrids, in addition to all-electric vehicles.
Neither GM nor Volkswagen has previously met sales targets for electric vehicles. In 2012, GM said it planned to have 500,000 electric vehicles by 2017 (eventually 243,133). In 2010, Volkswagen said it expected to sell 300,000 electric cars a year by 2018 (nearly 100,000 last year).
Many analysts and forecasters expect acceptance of all-electric vehicles to begin in the 2020s, but it is not immediately mainstream. Inadequate charging infrastructure, lower-than-expected gasoline prices and battery costs are all contributing to the slump in sales of pure electric vehicles.
IHS Automotive expects until 2020 to account for 3% of total domestic sales of electric vehicles, 8% in 2025 and 11% in 2030. The automotive research and intelligence firm expects the U.S. to supply 120 electric vehicles by 2025.
Other companies, such as LMC Automotive, are less sanguine about the growth of electric cars in the 1920s. The company expects electric vehicles to grow steadily to 5.1 percent in the U.S. market by 2025.
“For electric vehicles, we are at least at a tipping point in availability,” said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting at LMC Automotive. The past decade has been full of too many promises and not enough to deliver. “