How Autonomous Driving will Impact the Wine Market

With fit-for-purpose autonomous vehicles, the Napa Valley wine market could have a greater than $50 billion impact on the U.S. economy.

Autonomous driving will impact many economic sectors – even some that you wouldn’t think of at first. In my opinion, the Californian wineries could be one of them. With changing demographics, growth of on-demand transportation and a decline in licensed drivers, the rise of driverless cars could hugely benefit the California wine country.

Fit-for-purpose autonomous vehicles would open up new business models while at the same drastically increasing safety. In the end, it could be a win-win situation for wineries and customers alike.

In the future, fit-for-purpose autonomous vehicles will be designed for individuals visiting California wine country. These vehicles will be designed to accommodate groups of individuals and will be complete with on-board dual temperature controlled wine storage.

Additionally, these autonomous vehicles will be able to provide an experience that is unique and tailored to each individual with their own bespoke wine itineraries. Through the in-car infotainment systems, passengers will be able to learn about the wineries and winemakers prior to arriving at the winery.

This is an experience that few individuals have indulged in as of yet, but millions of Americans aspire to, as an estimated 229 million cases of wine from California wineries shipped in the U.S in 2015. At the time of shipping the wine the U.S. wine market had an estimated retail value of $31.9 billion. Silicon Valley Bank is forecasting the worldwide sales growth in the range of 9 – 13% for the premium wine segment in 2016.

Along with the growth of premium wine sales comes a changing demographic of fine wine connoisseurs and collectors. By 2021, Generation X will surpass Baby Boomers as the largest fine wine connoisseur demographic in the U.S. By 2026, Millennials will surpass Generation X to become the largest fine wine connoisseur demographic.

The changing demographics of fine wine connoisseurs is perfectly timed to intersect with the decline in licensed drivers and the advancement of autonomous vehicles.

According to a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute report, the percentage of individuals with a driver’s license decreased steadily between 2011 and 2014, while the U.S. population grew by 7 million during that timeframe.

For individuals aged 16 to 44, the number of individuals who have a driver’s license has decreased from 91.8% in 1983 to 76.7% in 2014. While at the same time, wine consumption in the U.S. has grown from 528 million gallons in 1983 to 886 million gallons in 2014.

The decline in driver’s licenses is offset by the rapid growth of on-demand transportation. An average of 7.3 million individuals in the U.S. use a ride sharing service each month which equates to $5.6 billion in annual spending.

With the rapid growth of ride sharing along with the increase in wine consumption, the perfect symbiotic relationship is being created for the wine market.

This symbiotic relationship is echoed by Matt Dees, winemaker of JONATA and The Hilt who stated, “With the changing demographics and introduction of autonomous vehicles specifically designed for visitors to California wine regions, an exceptional opportunity to safely and comfortably enjoy the best California has been created.”

Mr. Dees is correct in his assertion. With the increase in individuals opting not to drive, the trend of fit for purpose autonomous vehicles will rapidly increase. Wineries and winemakers such as Mr. Dees stand to benefit from this trend all the while increasing the safety of those individuals traveling on public roads.

McKinsey is projecting that up to one in ten cars sold in 2030 will be a shared vehicle which will lead to the subsequent rise of a market for fit-for-purpose mobility solutions.

McKinsey is correct in their projection, but the fit-for-purpose mobility solution will start to evolve in 2020 as society starts the great migration towards a fully autonomous future powered by A.I.

The mobility migration to fully autonomous vehicles will have a positive impact on the wine industry. Passengers in fully autonomous vehicles will be able to engage in deep conversations and consume fine wine while the vehicle is traveling to their destination.

For individuals visiting California wine country, fit-for-purpose autonomous vehicles will chauffeur wine connoisseurs from one tasting to another. These vehicles could be equipped with virtual reality headsets, which would allow passengers to experience the vineyard during harvest prior to arriving and tasting the wines. In-autonomous vehicle virtual reality experiences will allow wine tourists to build an emotional bond with the vineyards and wines prior to arriving.

Experiences as mentioned above will enhance the experience and eliminate the need to drive after a day of tastings will improve the safety of all individuals, not just those in the vehicle or traveling on the road. While improving safety, autonomous vehicles will also increase the amount of revenue that wineries could generate from their tasting rooms through increased sales.

Today, Napa Valley has a $50 billion economic impact on the U.S. economy.

Tomorrow, with fit-for-purpose autonomous vehicles designed for individuals visiting California wine country, Napa Valley could have an even a greater economic impact on the U.S. economy.

How Autonomous Driving will Impact the Wine Market is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published on Continental’s 2025AD.

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