By Steve Beattie, head of business sales, Volvo Car UK
Our recently unveiled 360c concept represents our vision for a future that is fully autonomous, electric, connected, personal and safe.
The concept offers a glimpse of the myriad developments that could be set to unfold in the coming decades.
This future is not upon us yet, but the journey there is likely to redefine the role of the fleet manager and indeed the practices of company car drivers.
The new technologies emerging as part of this evolution will have a significant impact on fleet practices and decisions.
One development that is set to bring big benefits to company car users is completely autonomous driving technology. We are aiming for cars capable of full autonomous driving to be on the market early in the next decade.
When introduced, the technology in these vehicles will fundamentally transform the driving experience for user-choosers, enhancing safety through reduction of physical and mental strain.
For example, in certain scenarios, such as in traffic or on the motorway, the burden of long business drives will be reduced by this autonomous capability.
Our Pilot Assist feature, a driver support system available on our latest range of new cars and which helps the driver through steering, braking and accelerator inputs, has already demonstrated the potential in this area.
In the longer term, the capacity to remove the human driver will change the way people do business.
Unproductive travel time will be recaptured and transformed into useful time on the road with the potential for cars to become mobile offices.
Business will be possible not just following, but also during the commute.
In-car sleeping cabins may allow users to travel through the night in first-class comfort, waking up refreshed at their destination having lost no work time while travelling.
Another question raised by these developments is what the impact may be on employee housing decisions.
This is not anticipated in the short term but when integrated, employees will become much less reliant on their proximity to cities, able to work as they travel.
The freedom that this may facilitate is likely to stimulate significant user-chooser demand for these connected services.
Fully autonomous driving has the potential to fundamentally change our society in many positive ways and have a profound impact on how we commute, how we interact with cities and how we use infrastructure.