Will self-driving vehicles gain momentum in the wake of COVID-19?

KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index highlights countries and jurisdictions preparing for a more driverless future

Toronto, ON (July 14, 2020) – Less hype, but more progress, is the key finding of this years’ KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index, as authorities have focused on the regulatory and societal acceptance enablers of the technology. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting user and environmental requirements for transportation could accelerate the next round of AV development and deployment around the globe.

The 2020 KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI), the third edition of the index, evaluates the progress of 30 countries and jurisdictions in adopting and moving forward with AVs, and finds the majority have in fact increased their AV readiness in the past year.

“We’ve just begun to see the transformational potential of AV technology,” says Richard Threlfall, Global Head of Infrastructure, KPMG International. “Immense progress has been made on AVs operating more safely and effectively. Looking forward, driverless vehicles could have an expanded role in addressing new requirements for moving people and goods, arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, crowded public transit could be partially relieved by on-demand, autonomous minibuses to promote social distancing, while AVs for shipping can meet the demand for contactless delivery.”

Expanding the use and ultimately integrating AVs into daily life depends to a large extent on what countries, jurisdictions and localities do to further AV development and deployment.

The AVRI measures countries and jurisdictions across 28 indicators to assess their readiness and progress in furthering AV deployment and innovation. The indicators are organized under four pillars: policy and legislation, technology and innovation, infrastructure and consumer acceptance.

Which countries and jurisdictions are most ready for autonomous vehicles?

According to the AVRI, the countries and jurisdictions best positioned to propel the future of autonomous transportation – of those researched – are:

    1. Singapore
    2. The Netherlands
    3. Norway
    4. United States
    5. Finland
    6. Sweden
    7. South Korea
    8. United Arab Emirates
    9. United Kingdom
    10. Denmark

The 2020 AVRI ranks five new countries and jurisdictions in the Index:

  • Belgium (21),
  • Chile (27),
  • Denmark (10),
  • Italy (24), and
  • Taiwan (13).

Overall, the 2020 AVRI shows that the majority of locations have ramped up their AV readiness, with 17 of the 25 jurisdictions profiled in the 2019 AVRI increasing their scores in 2020. AV pilots and testing areas in particular are expanding – approximately two-thirds of the 30 countries and jurisdictions in the AVRI have areas designated or approved for AV testing.

Singapore edged out the Netherlands, which ranked first in the previous two AVRIs, for top ranking, reflecting the numerous steps it has taken since the start of 2019 to further the progress of AVs. The city-state has now published national standards for AVs and opened a tenth of all public roads to AV testing.

Both Singapore and the Netherlands are leaders in promoting electric vehicles (EVs), a key precursor to AVs. Singapore has plans to massively increase the number of EV charging stations, from 1,600 to 28,000 by 2030, while the Netherlands has the most EV charging stations per capita. Norway meanwhile is the world leader in adoption of EVs and in addition to extensive AV testing, has established three AV bus routes in Oslo.

The US stands out with 420 AV company headquarters – 44 percent of all those tracked in the report, including technology companies such as Google’s Waymo unit and vehicle makers such as General Motors and Ford, leading in AV development.

South Korea saw the biggest year-over-year rise of any country in the Index, climbing six places to seventh from 2019 to 2020. The country was propelled by the introduction of a national strategy for AVs, published in October 2019, which is hoped to reduce road deaths in the country by three-quarters.

Deeper dive on key cities

For the first time the 2020 edition of the AVRI also looks at AV initiatives at a municipal level – reviewing developments in five notable cities: Beijing, Detroit, Helsinki, Pittsburgh and Seoul.

“Many of the most exciting developments in moving AVs forward are taking place at a local level, led by cities, municipalities or states,” according to Threlfall. “Shared road transport including taxis and buses is typically the responsibility of local rather than national governments, so support at a local level can be even more important than national policy.”

Learn more about the AVRI and the future of autonomous vehicles by accessing the full report.

About KPMG International

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 147 countries and territories and have 219,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. Learn more at www.kpmg.com.

Source: KPMG LLP

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