The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

The Autonomous Car Onslaught Begins In Earnest In 2020

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: The Driverless Cars Are Coming

What will the car market look like 20 years from now?

If this study from IHS Automotive proves accurate, it will be a hell of a lot more autonomous. The firm predicts that “based on a wave of recent developments and investments in this sector of the market, as well as activity within various regulatory environments,” we could see 21 million autonomous vehicles sold globally by 2035, according to a report on the study in The Detroit News.


That begins in earnest in just four years, the study predicts.

The United States, according to IHS Automotive, will lead the world in initial deployment and early adoption of autonomous vehicles, while Japan will simultaneously ramp up industry coordination and investment ahead of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

IHS Automotive Director of Research Egil Juliussen said “substantial growth” of autonomous vehicles is expected to come between 2025 and 2035.

“Global sales of autonomous vehicles will reach nearly 600,000 units in 2025,” he said in a statement. “Our new forecast reflects a 43 percent compound annual growth rate between 2025 and 2035 — a decade of substantial growth, as driverless and self-driving cars alike are more widely adopted in all key global automotive markets,” he said.


It’s not clear whether these are fully autonomous vehicles with no human controls, or advanced versions of the semi-autonomous cars we’re starting to have now. But either way, there could be 21 million of them on the road by 2035.

If anyone needs me then, I’ll be in something weird and old and unsafe, with a stick shift.

2nd Gear: GM’s Value Problem

As we’ve covered on Morning Shift many times, General Motors (and Ford, and Fiat Chrysler) have a Wall Street problem. It’s been tough for them to get stock prices up despite an impressive turnaround, as investors and analysts fear the automakers can’t weather another economic crisis and are ill-prepared for the high-tech future of cars.


Here’s what GM CEO Mary Barra had to say about that to Bloomberg:

“I absolutely think, and we think, we’re undervalued right now,” Barra, 54, said ahead of GM’s annual meeting today in Detroit. “We’re going to continue to work to keep making sure people understand exactly the mission of General Motors and what we’re working toward. I believe that as we continue to do that, that’s something that will take care of itself.”

Getting the stock price going is proving to be one of Barra’s most difficult challenges. Despite record profits, the shares have lingered below the $33 price from GM’s initial public offering in November 2010, closing at $29.99 on Monday.

GM can still break even in a U.S. market that sells 10 million to 11 million vehicles, Barra said. Last year, automakers sold a record 17.47 million. Barra’s claim counters an estimate by Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, who said in a February report that GM and Ford Motor Co. need U.S. consumers to buy 13 million to 14 million vehicles to break even.


3rd Gear: Infiniti Will Go Big On Autonomous

Infiniti makes some decent luxury cars but it’s struggled with identity throughout its entire existence. As of late the brand has been going heavy on tech, and on cars like the updated Q50, that means autonomous tech.


Get ready to see it on more Infinitis. Via Reuters:

For Nissan’s Infiniti, only the Q50 sedan is currently equipped with its latest generation steering system that allows for autonomous driving above 60 kilometers (37 miles) per hour on the highway.

“This will be rolled out as we are launching new vehicles one by one,” Roland Krueger, Infiniti’s president, told Reuters.

“Whenever we are launching the next cars with such a steering system or the next generation of these systems, then of course we would offer those features to our customers.”

More advanced autonomous driving features, such as those beyond highways, will require advances in infrastructure and regulation, Krueger said.


4th Gear: Led By The Son Of Hyundai’s Chairman, Genesis Steps Into The Ring

Hyundai has finally spun Genesis off into its own brand, and it’s led by a man named E.S. Chung, who is the son of the company’s chairman. Bloomberg has a good report on the uphill battle facing Chung, Genesis, Hyundai as a whole and the crowded luxury market in general right now:

Hyundai will start sales of its new G80 mid-sized sedan in South Korea next month, the second of a six-model lineup planned for its burgeoning premium marque called Genesis. Vice Chairman Chung Eui Sun, the son of the chairman, has been fronting the brand, introducing it in Seoul in November, then announcing plans to spin it off into a standalone division at the Detroit auto show two months later.

The stakes are high for Hyundai, which faces competition in the low-end of the market from Chinese brands after missing its sales target last year for the first time since the global financial crisis. While luxury cars command a premium and are typically more profitable, the field is crowded and dominated by the German duo BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Among Hyundai’s Japanese rivals competing in the segment, only Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus has given the Germans a serious run for their money.

“Chung Eui Sun needs a monumental achievement for Hyundai,” said Ko Tae Bong, senior auto analyst at Hi Investment & Securities Co. in Seoul. “Especially when Hyundai is facing limited demand for its value-for-money cars, the luxury brand, of course, will be the next step.”


That whole story is worth a read in full.

5th Gear: China Is Next For Lincoln

Ford is reportedly eyeing Chinese production for future Lincolns, but no word yet on whether those cars are destined for the U.S. or just domestic production. From Bloomberg via The Detroit News:

Ford is considering a major manufacturing presence in the southwestern Chinese city that would serve the domestic market and be an Asian export base, said one of the people, who asked not to be named revealing internal deliberations. Output could begin as soon as 2018 if Lincoln continues strong growth in China, where it got off to a fast start last year, the person said.

No agreement has been reached on key points such as profit-sharing, and it may still take until 2020 or later for the first Lincolns to roll off the line in China, said another person, who said the discussions are preliminary.


Reverse: Drive-Thru Banks


Neutral: What Will It Take For Autonomous Cars To Catch On In Big Numbers?

They seem all but inevitable, but study after study shows buyers seem wary. How does that change?