Google Car CEO Predicts Increased Need for Dealerships in All-Autonomous Future
Surprisingly, in a world filled with autonomous cars, the CEO of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project has suggested that dealerships could become way more important than they are right now. At the J.D. Power and NADA Automotive Forum ahead of the New York Auto Show, CEO John Krafcik discussed the implications of a fully-autonomous future, and the one that would lead to increased dealership importance is that, with everyone in autonomous cars, car usage could skyrocket.
Normal cars spend the majority of their time parked and off, but according to Krafcik, “Self-driving cars are going to be more expensive physical assets, so we’re going to find a way to use them more.” Krafcik meant that we may start using our cars more due to the amount of money we spent, and also that we may place our cars in ride-sharing services, possibly without us even being in the car.
As a result, Krafcik could see annual car usage rising to anywhere between 100,000 to 150,000 miles each year. “I think there are going to be positive implications for a lot of dealers, and for the OEMs, thinking about that duty cycle is going to be very different,” said Krafcik.
No kidding—think of how often you need to go have your car serviced now, when the average miles driven each year is somewhere around 15,000 miles.
However, I have to wonder if that estimate will be the least bit accurate. To break 100,000 miles per year, your autonomous car would need to drive a minimum of 274 miles each day, and to reach 150,000 miles the car would need to drive 411 miles every day. At highway speeds, that means the car would be moving between almost 4.5 hours and almost 7 hours each day. Honestly, I would imagine that most people would use an autonomous car the same way they use their manually-driven car today—as a way for you to get from place to place—and not in the quasi-robotic-employee manner that Krafcik described (even if the government agrees the car is technically the driver).
Still, that brings up a point that I think dealers are unnecessarily wringing their hands over—even safely-driven cars need to be repaired from time to time, and so long as parts wear out, service departments will not lack for business.