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Australia not yet prepared for driverless cars revolution, survey shows

Australia not prepared for driverless cars

Australia still has much to do to prepare for the Autonomous Vehicles (AV) era, according to a study of 20 countries by KPMG International, released today.


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The 2018 KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI) is the first study of its kind, examining how 20 selected nations rate today in terms of progress and capacity for adapting AV technology. The Index evaluates each country according to four pillars that are integral to the adoption and integration of autonomous vehicles: policy & legislation, technology & innovation, infrastructure and consumer acceptance.

Overall, Australia ranked 14 out of 20.

The report finds: “On technology and innovation Australia has few AV technology headquarters and patents, the research found no relevant investments and few Australians drive electric cars.”

Australia scores reasonably well on AV-related policy and legislation, while on infrastructure it receives a maximum score for the quality of mobile networks. But it has a middle ranking for quality of its roads and availability of 4G and currently has very few electric charging stations.

Paul Low, KPMG Transport Management Consulting Partner, said: “Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) are poised to revolutionise not only transportation but the way people live and work throughout the world. The mobility freedom provided by AVs will have a transformational impact on society. But with the tremendous opportunity comes significant challenges that have to be addressed in order for Australia, and other countries, to be able to realise the full benefits of AVs.

 “A key issue for Australia in this respect is our federation – it is crucial that state and federal authorities collaborate so we can establish a universal platform to support AV transitioning across the nation.

“Another key question point is to decide what we want as a country. Do we prioritise consumer choice or do we believe there is more economic opportunity in a deliberate strategy to introduce AVs into high value fleets (e.g. freight and logistics) or corridors (e.g. key motorways)? Getting this over-arching strategy right will create consumer and investor confidence by giving certainty on where we are headed. It will also determine the regulatory model we need.

“The market scale in Australia will not rival some parts of the world, but we can match the innovation being achieved in other countries as long as the policy and regulatory settings are right.”

“While high price is often mentioned as a reason for the low take-up of electric cars in Australia, the cost of Automated and Electric vehicles is already declining rapidly and will in the near future will be comparable to an average sedan now (i.e. around $30k).

“I believe the lack of charging infrastructure is as big an issue – for this reason we would commend the approach of the Victorian Government which asked for independent advice from Infrastructure Victoria on the charging and other infrastructure required to enable the implementation of the automated and zero emission vehicles in that state. Similar detailed research is needed across Australia as regions will have different infrastructure requirements, driven in part by varying socio-economic structure and urban development patterns.”

KPMG Australia urges Commonwealth and state governments to take relevant actions to safeguard the liveability and productivity of our cities in the autonomous era.

  • Implement road pricing reform as a matter of priority to manage demand for car travel, and as a policy lever to encourage ride sharing.
  • Assist with a dedicated AV testing facility, tailored to simulate Australian road conditions which can be used by the global Original Equipment Manufacturers to test and ensure the technology is suitable for Australian cities and regions.
  • Consider autonomous electric vehicles in our infrastructure planning and investment decision making processes. This includes the take-up of autonomous ride-sourcing services and the implications for travel behaviour and land use.
  • Encourage an eventual transition from private ownership to ride sourcing and car sharing for daily travel. This includes promoting business models that provide these services. Governments must also ensure high quality alternatives to car travel are available, including public transport, walking and cycling.

Paul Low said: “Planning today for an AV future is essential, because it is not a question of if, but when, AVs becomes ubiquitous. Embracing partnerships between government and the private sector can speed technology development, while helping ensure that application of AV meets public policy objectives. It is important to engage all stakeholders – government, business and citizens – with AV planning, as it will impact all aspects of life in the future.”

Countries preparedness ranking for autonomous vehicles

According to the AVRI, the 20 countries most prepared for the future of autonomous transportation of those researched are:

1. Netherlands  11. Japan
2. Singapore 12. Austria
3. United States 13. France
4. Sweden 14. Australia
5. United Kingdom          15. Spain
6. Germany 16. China
7. Canada 17. Brazil
8. United Arab Emirates 18. Russia
9. New Zealand 19. Mexico
10 South Korea 20. India


Read the full report, Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (PDF 2.9MB)

For further information

Ian Welch
Associate Director
T: 0400 818 891

About the report

The Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI) is intended to provide an understanding of various countries’ preparedness and openness to AV technology. Twenty countries were included in the AVRI based on economic size and progress in adopting autonomous vehicles. Countries are assessed on 26 different measures within four pillars: policy & legislation; technology & innovation; infrastructure; and consumer acceptance. Each pillar has equal weight in calculating a country’s overall score. Six measures are scored for the Index by KPMG and Roubini ThoughtLab, which used media articles, press releases and other material to assess each country’s readiness for each measure. The further 20 measures use existing research by KPMG and other organisations.

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