Why the liquor industry wants to get self-driving cars on the road

Automakers and tech firms have long been the ones hustling to get self-driving cars on the street. But they’ve lately been joined by a surprise ally: America’s alcohol industry.

In recent weeks, two industry groups — one representing wine and liquor wholesalers, and another representing large producers — have thrown their weight behind coalitions lobbying to get autonomous vehicles on the road faster.

Inherent in their support, analysts say, is an understanding that self-driving cars could revolutionize the way Americans drink. Brewers and distillers say autonomous vehicles could reduce drunk driving.

Without the need to drive home after a night at the bar, drinkers could also consume far more. And that will boost alcohol sales, one analysis predicts, by as much as $250 billion.

“It makes a lot of sense that the industry is interested,” said Jim Watson, a senior beverage analyst at Rabobank, a multinational finance firm. “It’s a win-win for them: Self-driving cars could boost alcohol sales and simultaneously reduce drunk driving.”

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