Manufacturers have been ploughing money and research into driverless cars for years now, with BMW testing driverless systems as early as 2005. Activity has been ramped up more recently by technology brands and car manufacturers alike, and NVIDIA unveiling the first computer chips for developing fully autonomous cars is just one of the latest examples of this. Google, Apple, Uber and Amazon are among the technology companies dipping their toes in the water, while motoring companies currently testing driverless cars include Ford, Mercedes, Audi, Volvo, and more. Experts predict that by 2025 we will have autonomous cars that will be able to drive themselves fully – including on motorways and in city centres – with no human driver input.
But when driverless cars finally become a reality on our roads, how will businesses be affected? Many companies rely on vehicles as a fundamental part of doing business, including taxi and delivery firms, while others have a grey fleet used by employees. The arrival of driverless cars could change the way businesses use and pay for their vehicles – and there may come a time when they don’t even own vehicles at all.
How much will driverless cars cost?
Driverless cars are likely to be an expensive asset. The cost of the vehicles themselves is currently difficult to gauge, but manufacturers are making strides to get the costs down, with Google parent company Alphabet recently slashing the cost of a key component.
In terms of other costs, it is thought that the rise of driverless cars will result in a reduction in the cost of insurance premiums because most accidents are caused by human error. But many factors of driving will be thrown into question – such as who is responsible in an accident between two driverless cars. With this in mind, insurance may take a very different form in the future.
Will we buy or rent driverless cars?
The question might not be “Will businesses be able to afford this new technology?” but “Will anyone still be buying cars?” The state of the industry could change from ownership to a rental or “cars as a service” model. If people don’t need to drive their cars anymore, there may not be any need for driving licences, and cars will be just another mode of getting from one place to another. There will be no need to own or maintain a car, and instead cars could be rented on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis. This could include employees’ grey fleet.
In this scenario, taxi drivers and delivery drivers may not be needed at all because cars could simply drive the goods or passengers themselves without human intervention. Businesses may still have their own vans or lorries for delivering goods, that are branded with their own names and logos. But even driverless lorries are being tested, so this new technology could come at the expense of people’s jobs.
Companies might take out asset finance for driverless vehicles in the future, and the costs involved could be very different to current transportation costs. But the landscape isn’t going to change just yet – there may still be a little way to go before Arkle Finance starts receiving phone calls for self-driving car finance! In the meantime, if you need finance for the traditional vehicles we still know and love, get in touch. Contact us using the form on the right or call 01933 304 899.