2016 Vehicle Innovations Forecasting Challenge

The objective of the first Vehicle Innovations Forecasting Challenge was to learn more about the likely trajectory of electric and autonomous vehicles using the wisdom of the crowd.

Overall, far from being a “tipping point” year for EVs, 2016 was instead a year of reality not matching EV advocates’ optimism, as shown by the disappointing (relative to expectations) sales figures, lack of legislative action in the US, and less-than-expected impact of EV subsidies in Germany. The most positive trends for EVs were that battery costs were dropping relatively quickly and that Chinese government policy plus investments by Chinese domestic OEMs and entrepreneurs were fueling continued steep growth in EV sales.

In contrast, three of the four questions regarding autonomous vehicles resolved in ways that suggested significant progress in a short timeframe. The answer to a fourth question about Google announcing the public testing of its fully autonomous vehicles before 2017 turned out to be a “no.” But then on April 25, 2017 Google did announce its first public testing program for residents in Phoenix, Arizona. Progress in autonomous vehicles in the short-run was swift, with all major players making significant advances and with policymakers starting to allow autonomous vehicles to operate on public roads.

The Challenge closed on January 1, 2017. The 13 questions ultimately attracted 1,530 forecasters who made over 9,500 forecasts on the questions detailed below. We also asked two open questions regarding events that might drive technological innovation in the auto industry in 2017, and suggestions for questions to help predict the future of EVs.