TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Automakers are overly optimistic about the market potential of electric vehicles and when fully self-driving cars will arrive, charged Don Walker, CEO of Magna International, the giant Canadian supplier.
Walker, speaking Wednesday at the seminars, took issue with some industry estimates, such as the prediction that EVs could grow to as much as 25 percent of the market by 2025. He warned that the number will be dramatically lower.
EVs, he predicted, will account for just 3 to 6 percent of the global new-vehicle market by 2025. It could come closer to 6 percent if the Chinese EV market grows quickly. The Chinese government has required automakers to build more EVs to combat air pollution.
“I am going to get criticized by a lot of people who say I don’t know what is going on,” Walker said.
“Quite frankly, auto companies can’t tell publicly what they really believe,” he said. “They know what’s going to happen, but they have to say what is going to be popular to be perceived as a progressive company.
“We’ve got a lot of feedback from many of the car companies, and they actually believe this to be right.”
He also said the race to autonomous driving is getting oversold.
Automakers will continue introducing technologies that enable vehicles to drive themselves, but don’t expect Level 5 autonomous vehicles for at least another decade, he said.
“A full autonomous vehicle is a long way off for lots of reasons, because of legislation, class-action lawsuits, all the complexities and the costs associated with it,” Walker said.
Some automakers have been telling the public that self-driving vehicles will arrive as early as 2021. But Walker displayed a slide forecasting the technology for 2025.
Vehicles with no autonomous features will still account for 17 percent of new-vehicle sales in eight years, while those with level 1, 2, or 3 autonomy, which still require human involvement, will account for 79 percent of the fleet in 2025.
Vehicles with Level 4 autonomy, which can drive themselves without human intervention, will account for just 4 percent, Walker predicted.
“Level 5 cars are not even a sliver on that slide,” said Walker. A Level 5 car likely would dispense with a steering wheel, brake pedal and other controls.
Walker said Magna expects to increase its annual autonomous-related components and technologies sales from $450 million today to $1 billion by 2020.
“It’s all coming and no one is going to stop that,” he said.
He said Magna is investing in nearly a dozen new technology companies and is consulting with future technology experts at universities as it maps its future.