GM and Volvo Prepare for Shift to Autonomous Fleets

Angus Ross, Deloitte Consulting LLP; Lex Kerssemakers, Volvo; Harry Lightsey, General Motors; speak during a mobility panel at CBA Live 2017. (Photo By William Hoffman)

Angus Ross, Deloitte Consulting LLP; Lex Kerssemakers, Volvo; Harry Lightsey, General Motors; discuss mobility during a panel at CBA Live 2017. (Photo By William Hoffman)

DALLAS — Due to shifts in consumer preference from personal ownership to a shared fleet, Deloitte Consulting LLP predicts commercial vehicle financing will make up 40% of the overall auto lending market sometime between 2022 and 2040, Angus Ross, digital transformation and innovation leader, told Auto Finance News.

Executives at General Motors Co. and The Volvo Group agreed that autonomous cars are likely to find the most success in commercial fleets, and they are both tackling that solution in different ways.  

“Our vision — for the near-term anyway — is for these vehicles to be in fleet applications like rideshare,” Harry Lightsey, executive director of global connected customer and public policy at General Motors, said during a mobility panel discussion at CBA Live. “We think that’s a commercially viable way for these vehicles to proceed.”

Lightsey cited regulation and safety as the primary concerns driving GM to pursue fleet management through its Maven program. With a fleet, the company has control over whether the cars are on the road during a bad snow storm, for example. It’s not as easy to get those vehicles off the road when it’s an individual owner, he said.

Autonomous vehicles will also be expensive — adding between $10,000 and $15,000 to the cost of the car, Lex Kerssemakers, chief executive of Volvo Cars North America, predicted. Fleets help to pool that cost among many users, and Volvo is testing this out now through a partnership with Uber.

“We are teaming up with Uber, first of all to gain experience, but also to be in the front seat when Uber takes the next step, so that we have the cars they [Uber drivers] are going to drive around with,” Kerssemakers said.

There are many challenges and unknowns, but the panelists agreed that the long-term safety benefits outweigh the costs.

“We started this around 2008, when Volvo said ‘no one should be killed or seriously hurt in a car,’” Kerssemakers said. “We believe that autonomous drive should contribute to a safer world for everyone.”  

Learn more about the tech and disruption in the industry at Auto Finance Innovation 2017, May 17-18 in San Diego. Visit www.autofinanceinnovation.com and to learn more about the Auto Finance Risk & Compliance Summit, visit www.afrcs.com.

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