Will self-driving vehicles gain momentum in the wake of COVID-19?

2020 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index

KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index highlights countries and jurisdictions preparing for a more driverless future.


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Less hype, but more progress, is the key finding of this years’ KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI), as authorities have focused on the regulatory and societal acceptance enablers of the technology. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting user and environmental requirements for transportation could accelerate the next round of AV development and deployment around the globe.

The 2020 KPMG AVRI, the third edition of the index, evaluates the progress of 30 countries and jurisdictions in adopting and moving forward with AVs, and finds the majority have in fact increased their AV readiness in the past year.  

“We’ve just begun to see the transformational potential of AV technology,” says Richard Threlfall, Global Head of Infrastructure, KPMG International. “Immense progress has been made on AVs operating more safely and effectively. Looking forward, driverless vehicles could have an expanded role in addressing new requirements for moving people and goods, arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.  For example, crowded public transit could be partially relieved by on-demand, autonomous minibuses to promote social distancing, while AVs for shipping can meet the demand for contactless delivery.”

Expanding the use and ultimately integrating AVs into daily life depends to a large extent on what countries, jurisdictions and localities do to further AV development and deployment. 

The AVRI measures countries and jurisdictions across 28 indicators to assess their readiness and progress in furthering AV deployment and innovation.  The indicators are organized under four pillars: policy and legislation, technology and innovation, infrastructure and consumer acceptance. 


Which countries and jurisdictions are most ready for autonomous vehicles?

According to the AVRI, the countries and jurisdictions best positioned to propel the future of autonomous transportation of those researched are:


1.       Singapore                                    6.       Sweden         

2.       The Netherlands                          7.       South Korea

3.       Norway                                        8.       United Arab Emirates

4.       United States                               9.       United Kingdom

5.       Finland                                        10.      Denmark


(The 2020 AVRI ranks five new countries and jurisdictions in the Index: Belgium (21), Chile (27), Denmark (10), Italy (24) and Taiwan (13))


Overall, the 2020 AVRI shows that the majority of countries have ramped up their AV readiness, with 17 of the 25 countries profiled in the 2019 AVRI increasing their scores in 2020.  AV pilots and testing areas in particular are expanding – approximately two-thirds of the 30 countries and jurisdictions in the AVRI have areas designated or approved for AV testing.

Singapore edged out the Netherlands, which ranked first in the previous two AVRIs, for top ranking, reflecting the numerous steps it has taken since the start of 2019 to further the progress of AVs.  The city-state has now published national standards for AVs and opened a tenth of all public roads in Singapore to AV testing.

Both Singapore and the Netherlands are leaders in promoting electric vehicles (EVs), a key precursor to AVs.  Singapore has plans to massively increase the number of EV charging stations, from 1,600 to 28,000 by 2030, while the Netherlands has the most EV charging stations per capita.  Norway meanwhile is the world leader in adoption of EVs and in addition to extensive AV testing, has established three AV bus routes in Oslo.

The US stands out with 420 AV company headquarters – 44 percent of all those tracked in the report, including technology companies such as Google’s Waymo unit and vehicle makers such as General Motors and Ford, leading in AV development. 

South Korea saw the biggest year-over-year rise of any country in the Index, climbing six places to seventh from 2019 to 2020.  The country was propelled by the introduction of a national strategy for AVs, published in October 2019, which is hoped to reduce road deaths in the country by three-quarters.  In the meantime, new entrant, Taiwan, was immediately placed in thirteenth place.

As a region, Asia Pacific has seen significant developmental strides with eight countries and jurisdictions being featured in the 2020 index. “We have seen a strong shift to embrace AV technology and increased acceptance amongst policy makers, society and researchers, as well as in the business community,” says KPMG Asia Pacific Head of Infrastructure, Sharad Somani.  “China and India have shown significant initiatives across parameters that will change the nature of transport in the coming years. AV/EV deployment will be a crucial part of any government’s transformative journey towards creating a Smart City, leveraging technology for an efficient and sustainable public infrastructure delivery.”

While Singapore is a role model for countries, jurisdictions and cities aspiring to create a conducive atmosphere to promote innovation and adoption of AV, the real opportunity will be in exploring how AV/EV can change the nature of infrastructure for public transport, freight and logistics.

Continued Somani: “Developing data policies and protocols and setting policies on licensing and insurance will be critical. Given the majority of economic activity is concentrated in cities, and public transport is the responsibility of local authorities, we see transport departments of local governments in mega cities such as Beijing taking more pro-active measures to promote the AV ecosystem.”


Deeper dive on key cities

For the first time the 2020 edition of the AVRI also looks at AV initiatives at a municipal level – reviewing developments in five notable cities:  Beijing, Detroit, Helsinki, Pittsburgh and Seoul.

“Many of the most exciting developments in moving AVs forward are taking place at a local level, led by cities, municipalities or states,” according to Threlfall. “Shared road transport including taxis and buses is typically the responsibility of local rather than national governments, so support at a local level can be even more important than national policy.”

Learn more about the AVRI and the future of autonomous vehicles by accessing the full report at home.kpmg/AVRI.


For more information contact:

Dirk P. Köhnlein
Advisor, Automotive Practice
KPMG Indonesia

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