Glen De Vos, Delphi Automotive PLC’s Vice President of Engineering, offers a thought-provoking question on driverless car technology:

“If the situation was reversed, and we had automated vehicles today and someone proposed to let people drive cars, what would the reaction be?”

De Vos maintains that under such a scenario, the public would be asked to accept as many as 33,000 highway fatalities.

“There’s no way on earth anybody would accept it.”

Among automotive manufacturers and technology suppliers, preventing deaths is promoted as a benefit of self-driving vehicles that will affect everyone. However, while ensuring public safety is paramount to all involved, the quest to attain this goal will result in industry players emerging as winners and losers.

For automakers, the success of autonomous vehicles could lead to a drastic decline in sales.

Brian Johnson, an analyst with Barclays, predicted in a report released last year, that sales of cars in the U.S. could drop by as much as 40 percent over the next 25 years if self-driving cars become widely-adopted. In response, Johnson maintains that General Motors and Ford Motor Co alone would be forced to close a combined 13 assembly plants, resulting in the loss of 25,000 jobs.