True Disruption – Electric and Autonomous

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Forrester published an interesting article the other day on “Autonomous Vehicles Will Reshape The Global Economy“.  They talked about the impacts to the auto industry, impacts to the insurance industry, long haul trucking, media and even government.  But let’s go further.  Let’s fantasize about autonomous electric vehicles.

You’ve got the same issues with electric autonomous as you do with gas autonomous, but in some ways, electric may end up being more disruptive.  Let;s take a look at all those gas stations out there.  In an electric world, you won’t need them, you’ll need electricity, so what happens to the gas stations?  Where will a car go to refuel?  Well, for many, that refueling will be done at home, in their garage.  The only time you’ll need to refuel when you are not at home will be on long trips and in many of those cases you will be stopped in a parking lot or garage and use their facilities.  So now you’ve got thousands of gas stations that will need to be … ‘dismantled” … along with all of the gas tanks buried deep underground.  Reclamation services will be in high demand.

What about parking garages?  If Uber is really nothing more than 10,000 autonomous vehicles using electricity, will you need parking garages?  Or, once it drops you off it picks up someone else and is in constant movement.  I read an article recently that talked about how Americans spent $1 trillion dollars per year on their vehicles and associated expenses.  In a world where Uber and its kin reign supreme that expenditure drops and the need for a parking garage will fade.  Instead they will have “hibernation” centres where the cars go back to get their nightly dose of electricity.  And since the car is autonomous these hibernation centres can be dense in terms of cars per square meter.

With 94% of accidents due to human error we’ve now wiped out many repair shops.

Netflix increases subscribers.  Yup.  What are going to do on a three hour trip from Edmonton to Calgary?  Watch television of course.  So log in to your Netflix account and start watching shows.  Oh, wait, that’s going to require more bandwidth, so expect higher capacity networks to be build along major roadways.  While we’re at it, let’s capture all of the information about the road from all of these autonomous cars so we can determine whether or not the road needs repair.

Road.  Repair.  Hang on.  Since the province gets money on the sale of gasoline, and the amount of gasoline being sold is dropping, where does the extra revenue come from.  Yes, we’ve got a more environmentally friendly transportation system in place, but we’ve lost $1.2B in revenue.  Where do we get the money to fix the roads?

Autonomous vehicles change what we spend our money on.  Electric autonomous vehicles change what we spend our money on and reduce the money the province and the country have to spend on infrastructure.

Now that is disruptive.

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