While many experts predict the demise of individually owned autonomous cars, Volvo is hedging its bets on premium private self-driving vehicles.
The Car and Driver blog featured an interesting discussion with Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson. In it he said Volvo sees a future in premium self-driving cars, with buyers willing to shell out $10,000 extra for fully autonomous functionality.
This runs contrary to the views of many industry experts, including Lyft co-founder John Zimmer, who sees private car ownership vanishing within a decade.
They anticipate it will be replaced with new technology that enables fleets of self-driving cars to operate more like public transit. And Volvo recent’s partnership with Uber indicates that it’s not completely ruling out ride-sharing models with self-driving cars.
However, it still sees value in a luxury niche for private ownership.
“I think you still need to have a car which is not just fulfilling the transportation demand, but giving customers emotional value—a premium car,” said Samuelsson. “To make a car even more premium is one of the most interesting things.”
Not only is Volvo one of the few auto makers to indicate there’s a potential market for both self-driving shared cars and private vehicles.
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It’s also one of the first to put a ballpark dollar figure on the premium luxury car owners are willing to pay for fully autonomous private vehicles.
“Such functionality should, for sure, be something close to $10,000,” said Samuelsson. “At the end of the day, customers will have to decide how valuable it is, but this is something we believe makes a premium car very attractive, and it also, we believe, makes it more profitable.”
He says Volvo is targeting the consumer who is willing to pay more to use their time more effectively. Such as for a motorist who, for example, was stuck in traffic jams for an hour each day.
“That hour could be used for something much more interesting,” he said. “Telephone conferencing, reading something, having breakfast with the kids. That is something we think is very important for Volvo.”