How Tech Is Changing The Auto Industry In 2017

by Wrik Sen    Dec 28, 2016

In the technology world, the latest advancement is only as good as the next thing coming down the line and the automobile industry, which thrives on technology, is no exception to this rule. As per a report by McKinsey, a few trends will shape the industry for the future; diverse mobility, autonomous driving, electrification, and connectivity. A lot of industry players also agree that these branches of technology will push each other for development and implementation.

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However, there is always the speculation as to how these technologies will finally shape up for the industry, as there is a lack of comprehensive viewpoint on the development, though it is clear, disruptive technology is indeed knocking on the auto industry’s doors. If not anything, it will change the ecosystem in the industry including vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, new entrants, regulators, consumers, markets, and the value chain in general.

Here are some trends that outlines what will change the automobile industry in 2017, and even in the future beyond.

- In-car connectivity

The idea of smartdevices like smartphones getting connected to the in-car infotainment system is now common, and is being integrated into numerous category of vehicles, including lower cost city hatchbacks. Google has created the Android Auto and Apple has created CarPlay, both of which are platforms for connecting smartdevices with the car, and make the device the central point for information, entertainment and utility.

From playing multimedia content to making and receiving phone calls, to even looking up maps and receiving guidance to travel on unknown routes, are now getting a much more customer centric upgrade, and will allow users to drive and interact with the infotainment system, without having to shift focus from the road. In fact, AR (augmented reality) based systems will have a crucial role to play, as it will be combining AR with existing technology to smoothen customer experience, and could eventually solve problems for vehicle makers as well; mechanics would be able to gauge what is wrong before touching any equipment whatsoever.

- Shared transportation services 

From e-hailing and networking for car pools, the mode of transport will be visibly different in many cities across the world, especially where vehicular traffic and pollution are burning issues. Car sales will indeed grow by volume, but in terms of growth rate, it is expected to come down from 3.6% in the last 5 years, to around 2%, but by the time 2030 arrives.

Eventually a part of the private vehicle sales would decline, and the case for shared vehicles would go up, which would eventually offset any short term losses to the industry. Overall, with the global working class rising in numbers, there will be a more buying power within reach for a larger number of people, but the effect on the growth of the automobile industry may not be direct.

- Open Source 3D printing for better costs

3D printing on an industrial scale is indeed catching up, and the automobile industry is one such industry which will utilize the benefits. Spare parts and car makers themselves could find value for money in outsourcing manufacturing responsibilities in part to those who can provide components through the 3-D printing process. It would also allow a single component manufacturer or 3-D printing services provider, to produce for numerous companies, which would open up new opportunities.

What is also being looked at as an eventuality, is that cars will be made such that major components will be made to withstand a single crash per vehicle. When accidental repairs are to be made, the entire component could be replaced at a cost effective price point, which in turn would change the entire concept of accidental repair as is known now.

- Driverless vehicles to get a stronger push

The concept of driverless or autonomous vehicles has been tested in numerous capacities, and even proven successful, like in the US, though there have been instances like Tesla’s case, which did not prove successful. However, companies wont halt the efforts towards autonomous vehicles, when technologies like self-parking and adaptive cruise are being tested, and could start becoming a standard feature in a whole plethora of cars. There may be high-profile trials of technologies like platooning, where autonomous vehicles will be made to work in tandem, to ensure that there is less congestion on traffic heavy roads.