26th May 2021

Knowledge Type

Research paper


, University of Oxford , Oxford Global Projects , University of Utrecht , McKinsey and Co

Major Project


Of Interest To

Academia Consultants Contractors Investors Operators Private sector clients Public sector clients

Road Work Ahead: The Emerging Revolution in the Road Construction Industry


Road networks, on which governments around the world spend significant shares of their civil engineering budgets, are rightly considered the lifeline for modern and successful economies. While those have been transformed by numerous innovations and (especially digital) disruptions, both the process and materials used in building roads as well as their key parameters and functionalities have remained remarkably unchanged over the past years and decades.

However, this seemingly natural continuity should definitely not lead to the assumption that there will be no major changes in the road construction industry in the future. It is already becoming apparent that four megatrends – autonomous driving, automated production, digitization, and advances in road construction materials – as well as a new process flow for road construction are bound to not only make the roads of the future look significantly different from those of today, but also make road construction much faster and cheaper.

The authors’ aspiration in publishing this white paper is to provide objective insights into the various aspects posed by the emerging revolution in the road construction industry, its implications, and the pressing question of how to prepare for the shake-up of the industry landscape. The ideas and information in this article are the result of many months of work by numerous experts from McKinsey & Company and Oxford Global Projects. This paper should offer the latest and most relevant know-how on the status of road construction in Europe, current challenges, and an assessment of the potential of novel technologies and processes.