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The Future of the Automotive Industry: Trends and Predictions

A Forbes article from December 2017 identifies the necessity for players in the automotive industry to be leaders in technological disruptions if they want to prosper. The technological revolution is not taking anybody by surprise. New trends and disruptions shape the world we live in, and life in its every small detail. Smartphones and “smart cities”, connectivity matters and solutions shape tomorrow’s society. To remain leaders in the automotive industry, big players have to rapidly adapt and create new solutions to easily integrate all the new emerging technology. A downfall is otherwise expected for those. The automotive industry seems to be the most challenged by these technological disruptions and has to act on multiple fronts for proper development. Areas to work on and develop are tightly related to connected vehicle services, shared mobility models and autonomous vehicles. A temporary solution identified by experts in the industry was a close collaboration between the giants in the automotive industry and small tech start-ups. But this is not a viable solution, from the costs and implementation perspective. The change has to start from within those big manufacturers.

A Call for Change

The European Commission identifies autonomous cars as a big opportunity for the European society and its future. However, how simple is it to develop and implement such technology on today’s vehicles? As the paper claims, AI technology will have to understand the passenger, environment and learn how to react to those. Also, numerous advantages are identified. The prospect of interconnected vehicles and autonomous driving seems to boost on-road safety. But while these matters are clearly painted, how can the industry keep up with these prospects? Will the need for urgent change, make those players invest and create suitable solutions for the society imagined by the European Commission? Truth is, we don’t know for sure how technology will shape each industry, as Dale Gillespie from Jennings Motor Group claims. But we can be sure that leaders in the industry already make formidable changes in their approach. “Act while it’s not too late” seems to be the latest philosophy in the industry. Below are some paths that companies in the automotive sector could take to secure their place at the top disruptive leaders.   

Fuel-efficient Vehicles

In a context in which environmental matters are on a rise, the need to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles has been addressed. And Tesla was the first manufacturer to take concrete steps in this direction. The electrical vehicle (EV) market has known an immense development in 2017 when an impressive number of 1.3 million similar vehicles was sold worldwide. The rate at which these vehicles are sold is on a rise – by more than 56% compared to 2016. And while Tesla was the firestarter of this movement, other manufacturers such as General Motors, Volvo (starting with 2019), and Volkswagen follow it closely.

Hybrid vehicles are also a step forward in adhering to the latest technological disruptions in the sector. Kia, Toyota and Hyundai already pride themselves with fleets of hybrid vehicles, sold at attractive prices - $30,000.

These trends suggest that these types of mobility solutions could be soon the go-to choice for buyers – but most importantly, manufacturers – from all around the globe.

Predictive Vehicle Technology

Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) – these are the most prominent technological disruptions the human of our century has experienced until now. And unsurprisingly, these two technologies are expected to have a big word to say in this sector’s development. As predictive capabilities and features become more prevalent in cars, leaders in the sectors seem to be eager to personalise their driver’s experience. Some manufacturers already implemented processes to set up their vehicles, by using cutting-edge algorithms and data to automate the process. Upper-class vehicles can already be set up by using smartphone technology and connectivity, but also voice command and changing interfaces.

Predictive technology implemented on vehicles can also come under the form of sensors that estimate performance, provide maintenance updates and set up maintenance appointments with the user car shop of choice. The sky is the limit, in predictive vehicle technology’s case.

Self-Driving Technology

As the European Union is dreaming to turn autonomous cars and transportation systems into reality, some manufacturers take concrete steps to achieve this prospect. Some companies have already been testing their autonomous vehicles on open roads, with a few incidents. But this doesn’t mean that this type of technology is doomed to fail. On the contrary, it only means that further steps and adjustments have to be made. It’s a work in progress, experts claim, and with semi-autonomous features integrated on a growing number of vehicles today – automatic breaking sensors, for instance – the prospect of a fully-adapted self-driving car is a realistic one. Driver assisted technologies also open new perspectives for the manufacturers in the sector. In Ford’s case, a completely self-driving car is expected to be mass manufactured by 2021.

Car-as-a-Service (CaaS) Technologies

As self-driving cars are expected to take the roads by storm on the next decade, CaaS technologies are a realistic expectation for those who don’t particularly like driving, or owning a vehicle, for that matter, but still need to use transportation solutions. This type of technology will allow them to easily engage in ride-sharing experiences, in self-driving vehicles. With the help of an app, each of us will soon be able to get a ride in a self-driving car. The good news is that nobody will truly need a driving license in the near future, to enjoy the advantages of using a vehicle. Experts claim that this technology will be successfully implemented by 2025.

The future is bright for those companies in the automotive sector that know how to take advantage of disruptive technologies. However, there are still challenges to overcome. More than this, tertiary sectors will also have to act fast and adapt. As these technologies are emerging, insurance companies have to adapt their policies, terms, conditions, but also advertising and marketing strategies. New accountability and liability matters have to be addressed as well.

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Tags: Automotive

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