What do today’s automotive trends say about the future of driving? The auto industry has evolved exponentially just in the last few years, and innovations such as automated driving, platooning, use-based insurance policies, hybridization, and enhanced platforms are on track to maintain or exceed this pace entirely.
In addition to these technological trends, several other trends are influencing this drive, including digitalizing the industry as a whole, creating tech that’s sustainable and efficient, and saving money.
While these factors are certainly at the forefront, the industry has not forgotten road safety or the sheer thrill of driving the open road. Safety and enjoyment are just as, if not more, important to the industry.
What Has Influenced These Automotive Industry Trends?
At the very core of automotive industry trends is an ever-changing pattern of behaviors and usage by consumers. This is not just a key driving-force but also a consequence of the evolution of vehicle technology. First noticed in 2017, this evolution is continuing. Shared mobility solutions, or Mobility as a Service, (MaaS), are something to keep an eye on as they continue to disrupt the industry.
Electronic powertrains and vehicle sales are climbing. As fuel prices continue to rise and environmental groups tighten regulations, the switch to electric or hybrid cars seems inevitable. As more and more cities develop the infrastructure necessary for charging them, the popularity of electric vehicles will continue to grow.
As stated above, the industry seeks to maintain a balance between comfort and technology, cost savings, and safety. But as the digital landscape continues to transform, the focus on user experience continues to play an integral role in decision making and is beginning to influence OEMs and even suppliers. Research shows that consumers want the ability to connect all their devices through the Internet of Things (IoT), whether that’s their cellphones, laptops, or their vehicle’s onboard entertainment systems.
In fact, some vehicle manufacturers are hearing this call and integrating apps for consumers to pair their device to their vehicle. Apple’s CarPlay and Android’s Auto are already available in some manufacturer’s newest models. As the driver’s ecosystem continues to expand, expect to see further developments aimed at driver comfort.
All of the above, however, have extensive implications for vehicle manufacturers that are just beginning to create digital capability within their vehicles – it touches every aspect of the manufacturing process, from hiring to acquisitions and partnerships.
Automotive Industry Trends to Watch
Of all the recent developments in the shared auto and tech worlds, these trends are on the cusp of something great:
- Driving automation
- Use-based car insurance
The support that today’s driving assistance systems give drivers is just the beginning. Warning systems that alert the driver if they’re departing their lane were first introduced by Mitsubishi in 1992, and many other manufacturers followed. Assistive brake systems were first introduced in 1996 to help drivers in the event of an emergency braking situation. Today’s innovators are pressing forward with smart tech that can take over even more of a driver’s functions – if the driver so desires.
Automated driving will bring radical change to the automotive world. Traffic density is bound to increase, and drivers will have time to do other activities on their commute – make the grocery list, reach for their coffee and not worry about the road, or even take a nap – things drivers cannot do today. While there are some car functions today that a driver can allow the vehicle to perform on its own, tomorrow’s vehicles will show a clear evolution from partial automation to full automation. But the passionate thrill of driving with the wind in your hair won’t ever be lost – with just a button press, a driver can switch the system on or off.
For the human and vehicle to communicate, it requires new parts and solutions. By communicating with other onboard systems, and systems within other vehicles on the road, this new species of vehicle will have omnidirectional “sight.” This requires the transmission of extremely reliable large bits of data. The only real remaining hurdle, which manufacturers are working hard at overcoming, is society’s acceptance of the technology.
With driving automation will come further developments, such as the ability to have fleets of vehicles communicate with each other. This technology, known as vehicle-to-vehicle communication, or V2V, allows two or more vehicles (such as semi-trucks) to closely follow a leading truck. This is the first of many steps towards introducing completely autonomous freight transportation using public roads.
Platooning was gaining ground in 2017, but by early 2019 support was beginning to wane due to several issues that were not easily remedied. And potential remedies would lose any cost savings from the original idea. Therefore, Daimler Chrysler decided not to pursue platooning any further. Trucking company Pelaton and the United States military, however, are still pursuing the idea.
Use-Based Car Insurance
Use-based insurance, or UBI, offers coverage based on how you drive, the distance you travel, and how often. It has lowered the processing cost of claims by allowing customization of insurance products available. In the future, applications of UBI will include:
- Fleet management via the IoT
- Coverage for semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles
Use-based car insurance will have an impact as more connected services are introduced.
But what drives these trends, shifts, and developments? And what potential liabilities lie ahead?
Automotive Industry Trends and Potential Liabilities
When industries grow at an exponential rate compared to past growth, there are certain factors that could pose a threat to the overall viability of the innovation. Some potential threats associated with trends such as autonomous vehicles include:
Acceleration of Disruptive Innovative Technologies
The shared mobility market’s rapid evolution has shown that businesses light in assets can be beneficial – but also that anyone can do so, anywhere around the world, and quickly. Consequently, newcomers to the market are rapidly discovering that the automotive industry’s capital-centric nature isn’t a mere barrier but is actually a liability.
Various niches are arising out of the shared mobility market, such as vacation planning apps that allow customers to plan their trip, book all necessities along the way, and pay for everything within the app. This disruption is becoming the norm in an ever-changing landscape. The auto industry’s answer? To partner at several levels with their suppliers and competitors, or even cultivate partnerships outside the auto industry. The result is a landscape challenging long-established principles such as value proposition and the normal product life-cycle.
Battle for Market Share
Within the mobility space, personal cars rule the arena. In fact, market share for automotive service apps is far from overtaking that of vehicles. At the same time, though, mobility solutions are outpacing the visibility of the vehicle. This has ignited discussions between app retailers and car manufacturers regarding the relationship with the consumer and the life cycle of a purchase.
In time, they’ll both need to come up with more innovative means of retaining customer loyalty.
Value Chain Digitalization
The abundance of data transference and sophistication of connectivity throughout the value chain has impacted the ecosystem of the whole industry. From opportunities for monetization on the consumer end to the transformation of the workplace with the aid of robotics, digital power is incredible. With management, it could be a significant competitive edge. Without management, it could pose a significant risk.
While all players have used their access to data to continue driving innovation, they’ve had little success in the creation of revenue streams that are sustainable. At the same time, those in the ride-sharing markets are cultivating their relationships with consumers and continuing to generate revenue.
In the workplace, employees, regardless of department, are demanding greater connectivity, efficiency, and mobility to better fulfill their roles.
Discovering Resources for Business Continuity
The speed of innovation coupled with an increasing number of collaborations creates new challenges, such as how to capture valuable intellectual property company-wide and how to formalize the structure of ownership regarding intellectual property when collaborating with third parties. For example, several new technologies are presenting the risk of patent litigation for suppliers and manufacturers because these technologies involve partnerships across industries.
To complicate matters even more, demographics are changing and focuses are changing from old to new tech, which threatens traditional working knowledge of the industry. Add to that the loss of traditional knowledge due to retirement and you’re left with a disorganized infrastructure that’s either losing know-how or buried in funnels.
Any market can experience unforeseen situations, but today’s political landscapes and social tensions across the world signal an instability that’s got the world in its grip. Because the automotive industry has a foothold in nearly every major country, the industry’s ecosystem is fraught with challenges – in obtaining raw materials, exporting finished products, and the overall uncertain financial market.
Currency values and raw materials prices directly affect the bottom lines of car manufacturers. An uncertain financial market impacts consumer demand, the cost of refinancing, and valuations.
That said, the recent political and social tensions also are likely to spark measures to protect valuable investments in various sectors, such as technology, business, and manufacturing.
Remember when you simply went to work and performed your function, and no questions were asked as long as you were doing your job? Today’s industries are getting inundated with regulators, shareholders, and advocacy groups demanding stricter process definitions along with greater adherence. These individuals and groups have the ability to generate greater risks which might not be immediately detected by risk monitors.
Of these groups, environmentalists have always been the most candid. It’s expected they’ll continue raising awareness with consumers. New corporate social responsibility contracts have created transparency.
Security and data privacy regarding processes are a target for hackers. The sheer amount of data in play regarding apps and connectivity in vehicles makes the new generation automobile much more appealing to the hacker.
Regulators at the national and international levels have increased pressure regarding compliance, strict governance, and process transparency. This and the above-mentioned regulations are bringing complexity into an industry the likes of which it has never seen, creating new risk areas.
What Does the Future Hold for the Auto Industry?
Tech advancements and future automotive trends are shaping the future of the industry as a whole. At the end of the day, platform- and software-based services, enhanced parts, and increased automation can help manufacturers enhance the consumer experience.