A very important event just happened in the development of autonomous vehicles: the Wall Street Journal reported that the self-driving cars unit of Uber was in late-stage talks to get at least $1 billion of investment from a consortium that includes investors such as SoftBank, and at least one unnamed automaker. If the deal goes through, the value of Uber’s self-driving unit could be between $5 billion and $10 billion. Uber would retain control in the minority share deal.
Why is this significant? Because it would allow Uber to tackle many hurdles to get self-driving cars on the road using a much-needed infusion of capital, according to the WSJ. It takes the pressure off a bit, at least in terms of coming up with the money to fund research and development of a technology that some people think is a long way from fruition. But I don’t think it’s that far away and there are plenty of implications for the automotive industry and more specifically, the aftermarket.
Uber changed everyone’s minds about transportation. Do people need that second family car? Won’t they just tap their phone and get an Uber? Sure, some people in the automotive industry get a little antsy when questions like this are asked, but these are questions that must be addressed. The potential of fewer cars means a shrinking car parc. Think Uber won’t get far with this venture? Ten years ago, if you traveled for business, you probably took a cab from the airport. But how many Uber or Lyft rides did you take last year? Yes, the rise of ride-sharing is a different beast than Level 5 autonomous vehicles roaming the streets everywhere.
But these things have a way of happening very quickly. And developments of any kind don’t have to fit into any preconceived notion you or I may have about how the world should work. Self-driving cars will happen.
So, ask yourself a few questions:
•How will autonomous vehicles affect my business?
•What do I have to offer the industry in this area?
•Are we ready for autonomous vehicles?
•What autonomous vehicle issues can our company solve?
•Could our company offer a product or service for autonomous vehicles, even if that product or service has nothing to do with what we currently offer?
If we do nothing about autonomous vehicles, what will happen to us?
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