KPMG's latest survey of automotive execs indicate that connected car technology is a key concern.

By Mike Davey

Toronto, Ontario -- February 12, 2016 -- One in five automotive executives believe technology companies could take over the customer interface in the connected car, according to a report released by KPMG. The report, Global Automotive Executive Survey, also shows that self-driving cars are top of mind for many automotive executives.

This is the 17th annual report on this topic from KPMG. Compared to previous years, surveyed executives are paying more attention to self-driving vehicles than ever before. Approximately two-thirds of the executives surveyed expect self-driving technology to become a more important purchasing criterion to consumers in the next 15 years.

Overall, the surveyed execs are embracing connectivity and digitization, ranking it as the key trend impacting the auto industry over the next decade. In short, the survey shows that industry executives believe it will have a significant impact in two key areas: the production of vehicles and the customer relationship.

"Auto manufacturers are facing complex but exciting times while the car begins to shift to a mobile data-room for drivers. As the vehicle is becoming more and more connected, automakers will need to counter-balance technologies within the car to ensure the drivers' experience is a safe one while still connecting them to the outside world," says Peter Hatges, National Automotive Sector Leader for KPMG.

The question remains as to who will be the "main player" at the customer interface. According to the KPMG report, "… self-driving technology could become one of the biggest challenges for the traditional business model, and OEMs should aim to develop strategies to serve customers of self-driving vehicles."

"Autonomous vehicles will not only allow drivers to use their travel time as efficiently as possible, but it will bring an element of safety to the roads that we have never seen before,” says Hatges. “Over the next 15 years as we begin to see partially self-driving cars on the roads, we will also likely see a reduced and eventually eliminated risk of accidents on the roads."

That this would also impact the collision repair industry goes without saying. Whether or not we’ll actually see that accident free future is another matter entirely.

US lobby group Consumer Watchdog regularly points to the disengagement report released by Google itself that shows the vehicles have needed the assistance of a human driver on literally hundreds of occasions. While the technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the last five years, it still isn’t where it would need to be to start seeing these vehicles on the road on a regular basis.

John M. Simpson is the Privacy Project Director for US lobby group Consumer Watchdog. He sums up the situation: “Google says its robot technology failed and handed over control to a human test driver 272 times and the driver was scared enough to take control 69 times. The robot cars simply cannot reliably deal with everyday real traffic situations. Without a driver, who do you call when the robots fail?”

KPMG’s 17th annual Global Automotive Executive Survey is available for download at


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