Billions of $$$ at risk on electric, autonomous vehicles – consulting firm

It could be a “pile-up of epic proportions.”

That is what a global consulting firm imagines could happen as vast sums of money pour into electric- and autonomous-vehicle technology without a clear road to a return on that investment.

“A pile-up of epic proportions awaits this industry as hundreds of players are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on electric and autonomous technologies as they rush to stake a claim on the biggest change to hit this industry in a hundred years,” said John Hoffecker of AlixPartners consulting firm.

071018 IL Billions of $$$ at risk on electric, autonomous vehicles – consulting firm

“The winners in this free-for-all will be those who have the right strategies and, equally important, execute on those strategies to their fullest potential – as billions will be lost by many.”

A press release about the study says:

“The automotive industry faces the possibility of a monumental capital drain in the near term as hundreds of players, including non-traditional ones, are pouring unprecedented sums into electric and autonomous vehicles years before those technologies are fully cost-competitive in the market, when consumers are questioning the cost and safety of some of the [autonomous-vehicle] technologies, and just as the market itself is set to continue a cyclical downturn.”

“In truth, this industry has been operating ‘above the clouds’ in terms of industry volumes for a number of years now,” said Mark Wakefield of AlixPartners’ automotive practice. “But those volumes are likely to edge down further, just as spending for things like electrification and autonomy need to ramp up.”

The study finds that a “whopping $255 billion” in research and development and in capital expenditures will be spent globally on electric vehicles by 2023 bringing some 207 models to the market, “many destined to be unprofitable due to currently high systems costs, low volumes and intense competition.”

Meanwhile, the consulting firm says, another $61 billion is just “the opening ante” on the autonomous-vehicle front, “even though consumers say they are willing to pay just $2,300 extra for autonomy – compared with current industry costs of around $22,900.”

“Industry players are sort of caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Shiv Shivaraman, also from the consulting firm’s automotive practice. “If they don’t participate in some way in the ‘new-mobility’ revolution that’s coming, they stand to lose out on what might be the biggest thing ever in this industry. If they do participate, as so many are, they have the chance of benefitting from first-mover advantages, but they also face the possibility of going broke in the process.”

The study predicts that “full battery-electric vehicles will reach about 20 percent of the U.S. market by 2030,” while a second survey by the consulting group found that almost a quarter of Americans – about 22.5 percent – say they are likely to purchase a plug-in electric vehicle as their next car.

Autonomous vehicles will account for three million in sales in the U.S. by 2030, the consulting firm said.

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