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Self-Driving and Electric Vehicles, Over Promised and Under Delivered

The slow progress of autonomous vehicle and electric vehicle technology in gaining widespread traction in the transportation market is casting doubt on the ambitious statements of a few years prior.
July 17, 2019, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Jeffrey Rothfeder writes a long-read on a lack of progress in the autonomous vehicle industry, which reveals plenty of reason for skepticism about the past promises from industry leaders about the pace of change in the transportation sector.

Evidence for skepticism takes many forms, like court documents unsealed in 2017 related to a lawsuit filed against the ride-sharing company Waymo, Google’s self-driving car unit. "Simply put, Uber—and, as it turns out, many other automobile manufacturers—have been wildly overpromising," reports Rothfeder.

Many of Uber's projections were made without any data to back up their aggressive timeline. Assumptions and estimates deployed, not projections that have proven accurate.

After the court documents were unsealed, Uber officials have taken a more cautious approach. Earlier this month, "the company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said at an Economic Club meeting in Washington, DC, that it will take more than 50 years for all Uber cars to be driverless, a lifetime away," writes Rothfeder.

Rothfeder finds many more examples of the same kind of exuberance in the electric vehicle realm. The reality has proven wildly underwhelming compared to projects. For instance, "in 2010, J.D. Power and Associates predicted that within a decade, global hybrid and EV annual sales would top five million units. The EV segment is nowhere near that goal and, if anything, is retrenching. 

There is a lot more detail, evidence, and anecdote provided in this long read. The business of transportation technology research and development is changing as the challenges of delivering widespread, systematic change in mobility become more obvious than the over exuberance of tech "visionaries."

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Published on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 in Fast Company
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