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Driverless vehicles - how they can revolutionise mobility in society

Setting the scene

Solving important problems and building trust in society is our purpose and that’s why we are so interested in how rapid technological change in the 4th industrial revolution could profoundly impact the auto industry and society.

We partnered with The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), one of the largest and most influential trade associations in the UK, who were looking to build on their existing research on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) in the UK and explore both the human and social impact of CAVs on mobility in society.

SMMT has already identified a £51 billion economic opportunity to the UK, as well as the potential to prevent around 25,000 road accidents and save as many as 2,500 lives. New auto technologies have the power to boost mobility, but could they also positively impact areas such as access to health and education, and employment? To find out more, the study focused on some of society’s most mobility-disadvantaged groups: young people, elderly people, and people with a disability.

"This was an important piece of research that shows the opportunities technology offers to reduce social exclusion. Six out of 10 (57%) people surveyed said Connected & Autonomous Vehicle technologies would improve their quality of life."

Cara Haffey, Industrial manufacturing and automotive leader, PwC UK

How we helped

A team in Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting arm, formulated a number of hypotheses relating to the social impact. We tested these with colleagues at SMMT and across our wider automotive team, and then used these as the foundation to create a comprehensive survey, with the help of our Research to Insight team (r2i).

On its launch, the survey had been completed by over 3,500 participants, including a booster group from a specialist disability panel, to ensure equal and robust coverage from each target group of society.

We then carried out extensive industry research and in-depth analysis of the results - the findings of which shaped the final report CAVS: Revolutionising Mobility in Society. SMMT presented the report findings at a parliamentary reception, as well as to an audience of more than 400 delegates from across industry - and over 40 members of the media - at the SMMT Connected 2017 conference. At both events Strategy& was represented by members of its automotive team.

“For the consumer, comprehension of the benefits of vehicles that are both connected and fully autonomous is limited only by their imagination.”

Mark Couttie, Partner, Strategy&

Making a difference

Connected and autonomous features already exist and the race to fully driverless vehicles is underway. The innovation driving this is challenging both industry and government, whether in advancement of technologies or levels of investment – with iconic UK businesses at the heart of much of this.

Our new research was the first comprehensive UK-based study of the human impact of CAVs. We found that this new technology will offer freedom to some of society’s most disadvantaged, including those with disabilities, older people and the young. What’s more, the potential of CAVs to get more people into education, work, and enabling them to more freely access healthcare, amenities and leisure activities, could deliver a further economic boost.

Key findings from our research and analysis confirmed the need for CAVs, unravelled the intricacies of mobility needs depending on the audience, and identified specific benefits.

Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), for which commercial vehicles play a significant role in the development of new technology, will transform the lives of six out of every 10 people in the UK. They will provide the opportunity of improving access to tertiary education for more than one million young people. Increasing awareness of CAVS and their benefits will be important in order to achieve this. The report also provided a number of clear recommendations to ensure that we capitalise on this window of opportunity in the UK to positively impact mobility in society in the future, particularly for those who are most challenged today.

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