Google: Relax car dealers, don?t fear self-driving cars
Google has assured car dealers that the onset of self-driving cars is a positive, not a negative. Speaking at the J.D. Power Automotive Forum, John Krafcik, CEO of Google's self-driving car project, said self-driving cars will clock more hours than standard cars, which makes dealers more important than ever before.
"Self driving cars are going to be more expensive physical assets, so we're going to find a way to use them more,"said Krafcik. "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."
Eight times the mileage for self-driving cars
Krafcik expects the average miles per year to surge from 13,500 miles currently to between 100,000 and 150,000. The rise in miles per year, he explains, might be due to car sharing programs that can be performed while the car owner is at work or asleep. More miles every year will most likely lead to more servicing and maintenance of the car, which is a positive for car dealers.
On the topic of car brands, Krafcik said "Airlines don't build airplanes. Airbus and Boeing do that. Who knows how this is going to work out in autos?" An interesting question, though we cannot see companies like General Motors and Ford lose more control over the cars; unless there is a radical change in ownership of self-driving cars.
New vehicle technologies have spooked dealer networks already. Since the coming autonomous vehicle tsunami will likely use electric drivetrain technologies, not combustion engines, dealers have already opened a front against high-end EV manufacturer Tesla in this war.
Tesla's sales process bypasses the lucrative dealer networks in each state - to the point that dealer groups have pushed for legislation banning manufacturers from selling in states where they have no dealerships.
More autonomous vehicles coming
Google isn't the only company working on self-driving capabilities for cars, but it appears to be the closest to a consumer model. Tesla launched its own self-driving service on the Model S earlier this year, but it is not a fully autonomous system.
Other car manufacturers like General Motors, Audi, and BMW have invested into their own autonomous teams, but Ford and Toyota have been in rumored talks with Google to partner in a self-driving project.