When it comes to putting new mobility concepts into practice, the Netherlands tops a comparative ranking of countries worldwide. Key issues addressed include shared mobility, autonomous driving, digitization, e‑mobility and, above all, both the regulatory framework and the infrastructure that enable such innovations. In these areas, the Netherlands is leading by example. By contrast, Germany has fallen back to a mid-table fifth slot, with the US in tenth place. These are the findings of the second “Automotive Disruption Radar”, in which Roland Berger regularly investigates the automotive industry’s transition to a forward-thinking mobility service provider. To this end, around 11,000 consumers were surveyed in eleven countries: China, Germany, France, the UK, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea and the US.
Compared to the first Radar, the most obvious changes this time around affect customer interest, technology and regulation. In all three categories, Asian countries – namely China, Singapore and South Korea – are leading the way. Singapore, for example, has lowered the bureaucratic barriers to autonomous driving and launched experiments with self-driving tourist buses and driverless trucks. If these trials go well, the city-state could make a major breakthrough in innovative traffic concepts.
Electric cars still too expensive
Drivers are clearly also open to new developments in e‑mobility. Fully 35% of respondents worldwide can imagine buying an electric car as their next vehicle. Here again, Asia is out in front, with half of Asian respondents saying they would willingly buy an electric car. In individual countries, this figure actually rises as high as two thirds – compared to a figure of only 30% in Western Europe and a mere 15% of survey participants in the US. “These varying preferences are also reflected in the sales figures,” notes Wilfried Aulbur, Managing Partner at Roland Berger India. “The number of plug-in hybrids and electric cars sold in Asia in the first half of 2017 was almost twice as high as in Western Europe and two-and-a-half times as high as in the US.”
There is, however, one point on which consumers in all countries agree: Electric cars are still too expensive. The second most powerful argument against buying an electric car is the poor charging infrastructure. Once again, the only Western European country that leads the way is the Netherlands. “Although the sales figures for e‑vehicles and plug-in hybrids have lately declined due to reduced subsidies, the country boasts an outstanding charging infrastructure,” Aulbur explains. “And that lays the foundation for a further increase in sales in the future.”
Regulatory framework gives a boost to autonomous driving
China, too, occupies a leading position in e‑mobility and car sharing. That is the reason why the country occupies second place in the overall ranking – with considerable development potential still in reserve. On top of this, Roland Berger Partner Wolfgang Bernhart predicts that “Following on from e‑mobility, China has every chance of becoming a leading market for autonomous driving, too.” One essential driver of the development of autonomous driving is the legal and regulatory framework in place in individual countries. “On this score,” the automotive expert adds, “China is in the fast lane, with plans to approve autonomous car models and new test circuits.”
Germany continues to lag behind. True, the Federal Ministry of Transport’s Ethics Commission has now set out initial guidelines for self-driving cars. However, there is still no news on when individual types may be approved, even though – as in other countries – individual approvals will be granted for a first crop of “partially autonomous” vehicles. “If Germany and other European countries don’t want to be left standing, the legislator must quickly support new traffic concepts and innovative mobility solutions,” says Marcus Berret. “Only then can the market develop and grow accordingly.”