The German auto industry is comfortably a world leader. But a new world is airising, one in which cars drive themselves. In this new world, car accidents will be rare — currently 9 out of 10 are the fault of human error — as will traffic jams, since autonomous cars can let each other know which areas to avoid.
Rather than spending their mornings inching forward on the autobahn and searching for a parking space, commuters will read, work or even sleep in their cars, arriving at work as relaxed as someone who took the train, even if their destination is far from the nearest tracks. Matthew Avery, head of research at Thatcham, a vehicle safety consultancy, expects self-driving cars to be a common sight on the streets by 2025.
All of this innovation may knock Germany from atop the auto world, creating new competition for the German automotive industry and putting pressure on market shares and profits. Well-funded tech companies such as Intel and Google are pushing into the automotive space. “They will claim a large part of the lucrative value chain for themselves,” says Wolfgang Bernhart, an automotive expert with Roland Berger.