McKinsey Center for Future Mobility

Autonomous Driving

We help leaders across all sectors relevant to the autonomous-driving ecosystem develop a deeper understanding of the disruptions and opportunities ahead.

Our research advances the knowledge and insights on autonomous-driving technologies set to transform mobility industries, technology, cities, and the environment, on a global scale.

As autonomous-vehicle (AV) technology progresses from needing driver assistance to having full autonomy, driverless cars are looking more likely to become a reality. With this comes significant benefits, including increased personal safety, time saving for drivers, mobility for nondrivers, decreased environmental harm, and reduced transportation costs. It will also lead to drastic shifts in value chains, profit pools, and needed capabilities (for example, software expertise or cybersecurity) that could introduce entirely new industries within automotive.

While AV technology presents revolutionary change, its adoption will be evolutionary. We expect Level 4 autonomy—operating within virtual geographic boundaries—to be disruptive and available between 2020 and 2022, with full adoption coming later. Full autonomy with Level 5 technology—operating anytime, anywhere—is projected to arrive by 2030 at the earliest, with greater adoption by that time. These advances will change how people think about mobility in urban environments, with the greatest impact seen in car ownership and public transportation use.

Projected impact

As automotive technologies advance, new transportation use cases are emerging, largely driven by factors such as what is transported, type of vehicle ownership, and where the vehicle operates. Since use cases drive business models, value chains, and strategic decisions, we believe the industry should focus on how the most prominent use cases are developing, to navigate and stay ahead of upcoming changes.

What is being transported?

Transport of passengers and goods are vastly different markets each requiring specific technologies, regulation, business cases, etc.

Where can the vehicle operate?

Technology requirements are different for highway use cases rather than urban use cases (for example, longer distance sensing, narrower field of view)

Who owns the vehicle?

Ownership of the vehicle will impact vehicles sales (and therefore profit pools) and will have implications on business models for the players in the space

What technology is being used?

As technology improves, autonomous driving will apply to a larger number of uses, increasing the potential impact on profit pools and business models

Two key use cases to watch today are robo-taxis (self-driving, e-hailing) and autonomous commercial trucking. While a phased evolution of robo-taxi technology and autonomous commercial driving will bring near-term disruption, widespread adoption is not expected until 2030. For robo-taxis, the first at-scale commercial operations could be available as early as 2020-2022, while platooning—groups of trucks closely following one another— could arrive by 2018 and present more efficient fuel consumption due to aerodynamics.

In the near-term, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) technology will be important as the market prepares for full autonomy and seeks to increase profits from AV-critical technology capabilities. The market for ADAS could double by 2021, reaching $35 billion in revenue.

While ADAS expands from premium to mass offerings in developed markets, developing markets, including China, will boost the next growth curve. Much of this is due to expectations—in both markets—of significant declines in the number of automobile collisions and more consumers willing to pay for enhanced features.

Client impact examples

Developing an AV strategy for the future

An auto manufacturer investigates use cases for the mobility customer of the future and defines potential opportunities in connected and autonomous cars for both private and robo-taxi vehicles.

Leveraging a portfolio company’s capabilities for market-entry strategy

Through a series of workshops held for a portfolio company, a private-equity firm helps it develop an AV market-entry strategy using its existing assets.

Assessing autonomous-driving impact on the trucking industry

A logistics provider pivots its strategy based on analysis of total car ownership cost, adoption curves, technology readiness, and timing of deployment.

Cross-industry perspectives

As autonomous vehicles come to market, we anticipate disruption across multiple sectors and industries. We have identified critical areas of focus for incumbents and new entrants in these particular sectors wanting to keep pace amid the changes ahead:


There will be emerging use cases and business models, new value and supply chains, changes to interior and exterior design and platform development.


Partnership and market-entry strategies will be critical.

Travel, transport, and logistics

Transportation and mobility models will be disrupted.


There will be a focus on public-private partnership models along with data capture to improve mobility (for example, traffic patterns, congestion).


Premiums will be impacted.


There will be changes in how public and private spaces are used.

Proprietary assets

Our research has helped us develop extensive insights and tools to address critical autonomous vehicle topics that include:

ADAS growth strategy

Our ADAS/AV Component Growth tool helps assess which ADAS components will be critical in the next 5 to 10 years and how to develop an effective go-to-market strategy to grow above market rates.

Autonomous strategy

Our total cost of ownership model helps define where to compete in the autonomous space, determine the appropriate business models, and develop a plan to address capability and technology gaps.

Autonomous product design

State-of-the-art design capabilities from acquired design firm LUNAR can help determine product road maps—from ADAS to AV—by completely rethinking the design.

Software capabilities

Our Start-up and Investment Landscape Analysis tool assesses the software capabilities needed to compete in the autonomous driving space, such as machine learning, and defines a plan to fill the gaps.

Featured insight


The road to affordable autonomous mobility

– Robo-taxis promise affordable mobility. But with widely varying service costs across use cases and geography, providers must address operational and service issues to realize that promise.

What’s next for autonomous vehicles?

– A recent McKinsey survey provides new insight into the future of autonomous vehicles, including those with advanced capabilities.

Private autonomous vehicles: The other side of the robo-taxi story

– Although private self-driving cars attract less attention than robo-taxis do, our new market model suggests that they could give OEMs opportunities for growth.

Will quantum computing drive the automotive future?

– As quantum computing comes closer to reality, automotive players are exploring its potential.

Cybersecurity in automotive: Mastering the challenge

– With the software content of cars increasing, what do automotive players need to know about cybersecurity?

Mastering automotive software-launch excellence

– Automotive players can crack the code on superior launch performance by reducing complexity and increasing robustness in embedded software development.

The case for an end-to-end automotive-software platform

– Software is transforming car capabilities but also creating development challenges for automotive players. An end-to-end approach that integrates independent software elements into a comprehensive platform can improve functionality and decrease complexity.

Change vehicles: How robo-taxis and shuttles will reinvent mobility

– Uncertainties surround the future of shared autonomous vehicles. Modeling scenarios for their development and adoption can help companies on the road ahead.

A new look at autonomous-vehicle infrastructure

– What infrastructure improvements will promote the growth of autonomous vehicles while simultaneously encouraging shared ridership?

How China will help fuel the revolution in autonomous vehicles

– If the driverless-car phenomenon takes off in China, the payoff could be in the trillions of dollars.

Autonomous-driving disruption: Technology, use cases, and opportunities

– Executives in the automotive industry can keep pace with advances in autonomous driving by closely tracking developments.

Gauging the disruptive power of robo-taxis in autonomous driving

– The self-driving taxi could ultimately take the global auto industry on a wild ride. Our use-case approach reveals why.

Self-driving car technology: When will the robots hit the road?

– As cars achieve initial self-driving thresholds, some supporters insist that fully autonomous cars are around the corner. But the technology tells a (somewhat) different story.

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