BMW sees opportunity in driverless cars

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BMW, the premium German carmaker is looking to rethink its business models, design and products for the future of autonomous cars according to a board member of BMW who made the announcement on Tuesday.

Peter Schwarzenbauer stated that the ability to offer transport options will make a difference for premium carmakers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Schwarzenbauer, who is the BMW board member responsible for the Mini brand, told Reuters in an interview at the Frankfurt Auto Show, that the ability to hail a driverless car immediately might lead to a connecting approach between the business models of taxi services, limousine rides and car sharing.

Schwarzenbauer added that: “If it is going to be within three minutes, then I need a certain volume of cars to make that happen. Whether BMW owns these fleets or outsources the business is an open question. New mobility concepts will emerge with autonomous vehicles, which are robot cars. Fleet management will become a much more significant business. This means it will depend on how quickly the customers’ need for transportation is met.”

Ian Robertson, BMW’s board member for marketing and sales, said on the topic that customers can now use their smart phones to hail a limousine or find a car-sharing vehicle. Adding that it will take a while to resolve the liability questions before ride sharing with autonomous cars, Robertson declared that “The ability to use a car and then walk away is a serious business”.

Google has recently hired former CEO of Hyundai Motors America to be chief executive of its driverless car project, leading to a current race for developing self-driving cars for BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, brands which are hiring software experts at the moment to develop their autonomous cars field.