Asokan Ashok is the CEO of UnfoldLabs. He is an expert in driving customer insights into thriving businesses and commercializing products for scale. As a leading strategist in the technology industry, he’s excellent at recommending strategies to address technology and market trends. Highly analytical and an industry visionary, Ashok is a sought-after global high-tech industry thought leader and trusted strategic advisor by companies.
The automotive industry is one of the world’s most technologically advanced and innovative industries, constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. From electric vehicles (EVs) and autonomous driving technologies to advanced safety features and connectivity options, technology is at the heart of every aspect of the industry.
The automotive industry has always been highly competitive, with established companies like Toyota, Ford, and GM dominating the market. However, in recent years, companies like Tesla, Rivian, Sony-Honda (Afeela) and Lucid Motors have entered the market, bringing innovative technology and design. While the new entrants face many challenges in a highly competitive industry, their software, artificial intelligence (AI), and electronics expertise are bringing in exciting innovations.
Here are my top 10 technologies that are driving the automotive industry:
1. Electric & Hybrid Powertrains: Go Green
According to the IEA, there were over 10 million EVs on the road in 2020, a 43% increase from the previous year. Electric and hybrid powertrains are becoming increasingly popular to reduce their carbon footprint and increase fuel efficiency.
- Electric power trains are best suited for short trips and city driving due to their limited range.
- Electric cars are also popular in urban areas because they produce zero emissions, making them an environmentally friendly choice.
- Hybrid powertrains use both an electric motor and a gasoline engine to power the wheels.
2. Autonomous Vehicles (AVs): Save Lives
AVs are expected to transform almost all industries and increase safety, efficiency, and accessibility. AVs use a combination of sensors, such as cameras, lidar, radar, and GPS, along with sophisticated software to analyze and interpret the data they collect.
- Delivery Services: Companies, like Amazon and FedEx, are experimenting with autonomous delivery vehicles to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
- Public Transportation: AVs could improve public transit by offering more flexibility and reducing the need for human drivers.
- Agriculture: Autonomous tractors and other farm machinery can be used for precision agriculture, reducing the need for human labor and increasing efficiency.
- Military Applications: AVs are being used for military purposes such as surveillance, reconnaissance, and transporting supplies in hazardous areas.
3. 3D Printing Technology: Faster to Market
3D printing allows designers and engineers to quickly create and test new product designs and cost-effectively refine them. This process can significantly reduce the time it takes to bring a product to market and help identify design flaws early on.
- Prototyping and Product Design – 3D printing will help automotive OEM’s to build quick and simple prototypes, test them quickly and get them deployed for production.
- Supply Chain – 3D printing can reduce supply chain issues by creating sub-systems in an easy to create manner.
4, Internet of Things (IoT): Connected Intelligence
IoT refers to the network of devices, sensors, and other objects connected to the network and can communicate. These devices are usually embedded with sensors and software that allow them to collect, exchange data, enabling them to interact with each other.
- Manufacturing – optimize the production process by real time processing of data from manufacturing systems at production sites.
- Enhanced Vehicle Experiences – consumers can experience a range of navigation, infotainment, driver assistance etc., and comfort in the automotive.
5. Shared Mobility: Cost Savings
Shared mobility allows users to share transportation modes and services. It encompasses a variety of transportation options, including car sharing, bike sharing, ride-hailing, and peer-to-peer car rental.
- Car/Bike Sharing: Allows users to rent a car/bike for short periods, usually by the hour or day. Car sharing is viral in urban areas, where car/bike ownership can be expensive.
- Ride-Hailing: Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft allow users to request a ride from a nearby driver using a smartphone app. Autonomous ride hailing is on its way as well.
- Peer-to-Peer Car Rental: These services allow car owners to rent out their vehicles to other users when not using them.
6. Vehicle Connectivity: Managed Businesses
Vehicle connectivity provides the ability for vehicles to communicate with each other and with other devices and systems in the world around them. This allows real-time data sharing and analysis, improving safety, efficiency, and convenience for drivers and passengers.
- Fleet Management: Vehicle connectivity can help fleet managers track and manage their vehicles more effectively. Real-time data on fuel consumption and maintenance needs reduces.
- Remote Monitoring: Vehicle connectivity can allow drivers to remotely monitor their vehicles and receive alerts if there is an issue. For example, drivers are notified if their vehicle has been stolen.
7. Artificial Intelligence (AI): The Hype being Delivered
AI as a technology has been transforming the automotive industry in multiple ways. From self-driving cars to predictive maintenance, AI is revolutionizing the automotive industry.
- Autonomous Vehicles (AV): AI is driving the development of self-driving cars. AVs use a combination of sensors, cameras, and machine learning algorithms to navigate the roads.
- Predictive Maintenance: AI transforms vehicle maintenance by predicting when components will fail, reducing the need for costly repairs and downtime.
- Driver Assistance: AI provides advanced driver assistance features like lane departure warnings, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control to improve road safety.
8. Big Data & Analytics: Personalized Experiences
According to McKinsey, the amount of data generated by connected vehicles was 5.4 terabytes per day by 2020. From design and development to production, marketing, customer support, data-driven insights are used to optimize processes, improve efficiency, and enhance customer experiences.
- Predictive Maintenance: Big Data and analytics monitor vehicle health and predict when maintenance is required. Helps sales, service, and marketing departments increase revenues.
- Quality Control: Monitor production processes and identify quality issues before they become major problems. This can lead to significant cost savings and improved product quality.
9. Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI): Visually Designed
HMI allows drivers to interact with the various systems and features of the car, including entertainment, navigation, climate control, and safety features.
- Touchscreens: Touchscreens allow drivers to interact with various features, such as navigation and climate control, by touching a screen.
- Voice Recognition: Voice recognition systems allow drivers to control various features using voice commands, such as making phone calls.
10. Blockchain: Digitally Next
Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the automotive industry by enabling secure and transparent transactions between various stakeholders in the industry.
- Supply Chain Management: Using blockchain can help track the movement of goods and parts across the supply chain, reducing the risk of fraud and increasing transparency.
- Vehicle Identity & Authentication: Blockchain can be used to store and verify the identity of vehicles, including their ownership, maintenance history, and accident history.
- Digital Marketplaces: Blockchain can enable the creation of digital marketplaces for buying and selling cars, reducing the need for intermediaries, and increasing transparency.
Current Issues in the Auto Industry 2023
The automotive industry is a vital sector of the global economy, but it is also beset by a range of issues that pose significant challenges for manufacturers, suppliers, and consumers alike. Some of the most pressing issues in the automotive industry today include:
- With this ever-evolving industry and emergence of new companies has become a natural occurrence. One of the primary concerns with too many new companies in the industry is oversaturation. With so many companies competing for market share, it will lead to a situation they all struggle for profits, which could stifle innovation.
- In recent years, there has been a growing hype in the industry, with companies making bold claims that often fall short of expectations. While hype can be an effective marketing tool, it can also be detrimental. When companies make grandiose claims that they cannot deliver on, it erodes consumer trust, confidence and damages the reputation of the industry.
- Data privacy and security is a major concern due to the amount of data generated by modern vehicles. One major issue is the potential for data breaches, where sensitive information such as personal details, location data, and driving habits could be misused.
The automotive industry has always been at the forefront of technological innovation, and this trend continues today. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen many new technologies and innovations that have transformed how we drive and use our vehicles. From electric and hybrid cars to advanced safety features and driver assistance systems, the automotive industry has embraced these new technologies and incorporated them into its products.
One of the most significant technological advancements in recent years has been the rise of autonomous driving. This technology promises to revolutionize our travel, making our roads safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable. Many companies have been pushing the boundaries of autonomous driving, working to bring this technology to the masses. Despite many technological, process and other challenges, the auto industry remains committed to developing futuristic vehicles by pushing the envelope of technology.