With the introduction of the sharing economy in the taxi industry, Uber caused a massive disruption of the industry. Their solution was an extremely competitive proposition against what was then the status-quo. Currently, they are even going a step further by venturing into autonomous vehicles. Now, however, one of the world’s biggest car manufacturers, BMW, is joining the fray by starting the testing phase of their own line of autonomous vehicles (Business Insider, 2016).
BMW will start their testing phase by having forty autonomous vehicles in operation in the inner city of Munich. Each vehicle will be have a trained test driver behind the wheel for safety purposes. If this initial testing phase goes well, the project will be expanded to other cities.
Despite companies like Uber also focusing more and more on autonomous vehicles, BMW sees a tremendous opportunity for the company to properly diversify their portfolio with a pay-per-ride programme. The company sees big bucks in the personal public transport industry. Being able to provide the same service as public transport, but without the driver, is an incredibly disruptive and lucrative innovation.
The company sees its competitive advantage to be twofold: Firstly, the company will capitalise on their expertise and image to make premium models, outperforming their competition on class and comfort. Secondly, BMW will be able to both manufacture and maintain its own fleet of autonomous vehicles, allowing for a service level, guarantee of quality and decision flexibility unparalleled by current competition.
All in all, with the exponential development and investments in autonomous vehicles, true, effective personal public transport is within reach. The disruption caused by Uber in the taxi industry is bound to expand into the public transportation industry. Propagated by large companies and initiatives, such as BMW, jumping on the bandwagon, personal public transport will become more and more accessible to customers all around the world.