May 9, 2018

Quote: Money, Margins and Automation

From Bloomberg: “Who’s Winning the Self Driving Car Race?
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicts that robo-taxis will help the ride-hailing and -sharing business grow from $5 billion in revenue today to $285 billion by 2030. There are grand hopes for this business. Without drivers, operating margins could be in the 20 percent range, more than twice what carmakers generate right now. If that kind of growth and profit come to pass—very big ifs—it would be almost three times what GM makes in a year. And that doesn’t begin to count the money to be made in delivery.

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  1. Commercial ride hailing without a driver is further out than you think as waiting in line anywhere is highly context sensitive as local parking or stopping rules differ so widely. If cabs can stop anywhere, but will stop more than 10 seconds to hop in, say 1 or even two minutes for user to authenticate cab, type in a password, select a few options before the cab opens, traffic will be blocked and cities will start disallowing it or charging for it.
    While I think it is coming I think that 2030 is far too aggressive a target.
    Look to the growing private ( with driver ) cab competition by Uber in London, for example. More congestion actually. Highly controversial now after an amiable start.
    As such, without drivers this problem will only get bigger. I think it will not be solved by 2030.
    We may see dedicated transit zones, perhaps owned and operated by Translink, for these driverless vehicles in more remote, weaker traffic sub-urban zones. So rather than having a bus ( incl driver ) for 20 people go empty or with 1-2 folks in it every 30 minutes on a dedicated loop, a driverless Uber like small car might be cheaper and increase the user experience. Again, we may see trials by 2030 but not widespread deployment. Maybe by 2040.

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