Where Science Fiction Meets Science Fact

The UK government has recognised the importance of self-driving vehicles as a catalyst for technological, economic and social developments. It is trying to make the United Kingdom the preeminent testing site in Europe. But are consumers on board for the ride?

The race is on!

THE widespread deployment of self-driving vehicles, once thought of as science fiction, is just a few years away. It will usher in sweeping change and have wide-ranging implications. Businesses, even those—or especially those—not normally thought of as involved in mobility, should start thinking about it now.

Because, to the victor go the spoils.

Automation means vehicles can operate more cheaply and consistently, reliably and safely. Sharing of these assets will increase utilisation, create economies of scale, and reduce unit costs. These two trends, combined with the adoption of new vehicle materials and powertrains (such as electric and fuel cell) and increasing connectivity will revolutionise mobility. New types of businesses will be created, and new players will enter existing businesses, blurring industry lines. Incumbents will be forced to develop new skills, and to forge new partnerships.1

But the new mobility landscape will not be shaped by the private sector alone; governments will also play a critical role. Initial commercialisation efforts will likely begin as public-private partnerships. It's still early days for the industry and government policies do matter. Already, eight auto manufacturing nations are in a pitched battle for first-mover advantages in what is shaping up into a $10 trillion industry.2

The United Kingdom has enough competitive advantage in key sectors (auto manufacturing, technology and finance) and supporting industries (insurance) to be a contender in this contest. Being among the leaders in the future of mobility could offer a significant source of domestic revenue and act as a boost to companies that can compete globally.

We believe that taking a leading position in the future mobility ecosystem can be the UK government's "moon shot" mission. Success requires a far-reaching vision, astute planning and selective government action. Thankfully, many of the efforts needed to foster this sector align with "pillars" of the government's recent Industrial Strategy green paper:

  • Investing in science, research and technology
  • Upgrading infrastructure
  • Supporting businesses to start and grow
  • Delivering affordable energy and clean growth
  • Creating world leading sectors
  • Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places3

But more can be done. To inform the UK government's efforts, this paper looks at the extended mobility ecosystem in the United Kingdom, to estimate the size and scope of potential gains and identify where the United Kingdom could stake a claim. While this ecosystem is large and complex, driven by a series of converging trends, we explore more deeply one of its defining features: self-driving vehicles. We look at popular views on automated driving, because astute government policy must be informed by those who will drive uptake and acceptance: consumers. We explore commercialisation efforts to date of driverless vehicles and the UK government efforts in this space. Finally, we look at what should happen next. The questions we want to answer: Is the United Kingdom doing enough, and what should it do to be at the top when it comes to driverless cars?

To read this Report in full, please click here.


1. This and other topics are discussed in Deloitte's other work on the "Future of Mobility," Deloitte University Press, https://dupress.deloitte.com/dup-us-en/focus/future-of-mobility.html.

2. Adam Jonas, et. al., Global investment implications of Auto 2.0, Morgan Stanley Blue Paper, 2016-04-19.

3. HM Government, Building our industrial strategy, green paper, January 2017.

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