Mobility is the lifeblood of our cities - Private Autonomy

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

by: Sacha Oerlemans

The second of the three mobility trajectories - Private Autonomy

This system is more common in high-income, suburban sprawl, in which the private car remains a central element. Autonomy and electrification could make travel more convenient, safe, clean, enjoyable, and lower its cost.

In a Private Autonomy system, the private car would maintain its dominance as the central element of mobility. Autonomy and electrification might allow passengers to use time in traffic for business or pleasure. The system as a whole may be stretched by increased demand, as vehicle ownership is expanded even further and empty vehicles are sent on errands or to roam for parking.

There are many cities around the world where development and commuting patterns have increased sprawl significantly. In such cities, having a car is all but essential. That will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future. However, there are genuine costs to this way of life; congestion in Los Angeles costs the city an estimated $23 billion per year.

To do better, we envision consumers in these cities embracing new vehicle technologies, such as self-driving and electric vehicles. Dedicated road space, for example, could be allocated to self-driving vehicles. Connectivity could make it easier to implement demand-driven congestion charges, which could increase road capacity while limiting new construction. Car sharing and ride hailing could emerge as complementary options but would not replace the private car on a large scale.

There is a possible drawback to this scenario: with lower marginal costs to travel an extra mile in an EV, and without requiring a motorist’s attention thanks to autonomy, the demand for mobility could increase and thus add to congestion. Passenger miles traveled could grow 25 percent by 2030, with the majority attributable to additional autonomous travel in private vehicles.

Private autonomy chart

Miles travelled by private autonomous vehicles would increase as additional journeys and zero-occupancy rides become commonplace. On the other hand, households will need fewer vehicles on average due to the additional flexibility of a private AV vehicle – the net effect will be a similar number of vehicles traveling 35 percent further.

Both EV and AV technologies are likely to reach market penetration of 30–35 percent of the vehicle parc in those cities – far above the global average.

Private autonomy spread

From 'An integrated perspective on the future of mobility' by McKinsey & Company and Bloomberg New Energy Finance - October 2016