Tony Boutelle

A glimpse into the future of automobiles

Autonomous, electric, and shared vehicles will become more common.

June 4, 2018

The future of automobiles lies in the ACES.

Not the ACES you seek in a card game, rather in autonomous, connected, electric, and shared vehicles, Tony Boutelle said during the general session at the CU Direct Drive 18 Conference Thursday in Grapevine, Texas.

“By themselves, they have the potential to turn the industry on its head,” says Boutelle, president/CEO of CU Direct. “But linking them together is key.”

Autonomous vehicles. Self-driving vehicles are already being tested on the roads. Progress is being made, but there have also been incidents—such as autonomous vehicles hitting parked emergency response vehicles or killing pedestrians.

There are also state and federal regulations that need to be addressed, such as the requirement that a licensed driver be present in the vehicle. Plus, road structures will need to be improved for the vehicles to operate.

“There’s a lot that still has to be done, but there’s a lot that’s been done so far,” Boutelle says.

Electric vehicles. All motor vehicle companies have committed to offering some level of an electric car in the future. And while more people own these vehicles, some factors will slow down ownership levels, Boutelle says, including cost and access to charging stations.

In 2010, it cost $1,000 per kilowatt hour of battery to charge the vehicle. While this has fallen to around $200 to $300 per kilowatt hour, Bloomberg predicts by 2025 it will be $109, and by 2030 it will be $73.

Finding a charging station currently is difficult, Boutelle says, and the length of time it takes to charge the vehicle can vary between 30 minutes to four hours. But progress is being made on increasing the number of available charging stations.

“How fast you can reduce the cost and increase accessibility is key,” he says.

Shared vehicles. Ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are already popular, and car-sharing services such as Zipcar are gaining traction. Other car companies are also beginning to roll out subscription services, a leasing-type option that often includes maintenance and insurance costs, and allows people to lower their monthly payment.

There are currently more than 250 million vehicles on the roads, Boutelle says, but there will be a shift toward autonomous and electric vehicles and people using ride sharing or subscription services.

And while credit unions don’t need to make immediate changes in lending policies, they'll need to determine how to approach auto lending in the future.