The automotive sector value chain has evolved massively from its origins as a simple B2C model based on the manufacture and sale of vehicles. Its increasing complexity responds to market demands, to the stimuli provided by developments in other sectors and, like all industries, to technological advances that make new scenarios not only plausible, but realistic. The automotive technology market size is expected to reach over US$100bn by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 8.21% between 2023 and 2028. Tech giants like Google and Tesla have not been shy in voicing their interest in the sector and have been incorporating more technology into their cars. Where the skills and funds are less bountiful, automakers and tech companies have formed partnerships.
Start-up Air-Connected Mobility expects the following tech-powered trends to dominate the scene in 2024.
Last year the European Commission updated the General Safety Regulation (GSR) that establishes mandatory safety requirements for cars sold in the EU. The new safety measures will help to better protect passengers, pedestrians and cyclists across the EU, expectedly saving over 25,000 lives and avoiding at least 140,000 serious injuries by 2038. From 2024, the following features become compulsory: ADAS such as autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, driver monitoring systems; data recorders to be installed on all new cars to monitor vehicles’ performance, provide information in case of an accident and improve safety design in the future; digital speed assistance based on real-time GPS and data mapping; tougher crash test standards and advanced sensors and cameras for the protection of pedestrians and cyclists.
Consumer demand for intelligent infotainment
Consumers are demanding increasingly advanced infotainment tools that integrate seamlessly with their driving experience. In particular, in-vehicle entertainment covers connectivity with ADAS, smartphones, apps and sensors but also should start to connect with other vehicles and urban architecture in an IoT integrated world. Numerous car manufacturers such as Jeep, Tesla, Nissan and Kia are planning to overhaul their infotainment systems and introduce IoT features in their new models.
On the one hand, consumers are calling for increasing comfort and functionality from their vehicles; on the other they are also demanding more ease and choice in the mode of purchase. More and more consumers are using the internet to compare vehicles and make more informed purchasing decisions regarding models, insurance and accessories. In 2024, auto dealers will be able to sell vehicles in Amazon’s US store for the first time, and Hyundai will be the first brand available for customers to purchase.
Of course none of this would be possible without improved connectivity. With the increasing availability of 5G which facilitates faster data transmission, higher network and bandwidth capacity and security, it is possible to finally achieve V2X and create networks of interconnected cars that communicate with each other and the environment around them.
Increased adoption of EV and hydrogen-driven cars
Fuel-cell electric cars will be driving increase demand in electric vehicles (EVs). The fact that these models recharge faster and have up to x5 the range of other EVs is highly appealing to consumers that were still sitting on the fence about electric, with concerns regarding the availability of power columns and distance they are able to run on a single charge. One German start-up, ChargeX, has developed a modular EV charging solution that converts parking spaces into charging stations specifically to respond to some of these concern.
Overall, more eco-friendly cars are becoming more common and consumers are making ethical choices to select greener models, car-pool or rely on subscription-based services for flexible ownership.
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) play a key role in collective imagination and as such they have attracted a lot of media attention over the years. In addition to providing autonomous transport, AVs will play a key role in logistics and public transportation. On the one hand they will help improve last-mile deliveries and reduce downtime, on the other, thanks to the sophisticated sensors and algorithms on which they rely, they can help improve public safety by assisting drivers who are suddenly unwell or suffering from fatigue which can be detected thanks to recognition systems and AI. Reports suggest that a full 40% of the mileage driven in Europe could be covered by autonomous vehicles in 2030.
More and more manufacturers are ensuring their new models are connected to the IoT using wireless technology and, where this is not possible, they are partnering with technology providers that can support them with tools to interact with the city around them, with other vehicles and improve vehicle safety. Thanks to connected devices it is also possible to hugely improve the accuracy of geolocalisation to retrieve stolen cars which are typically stored deep underground where traditional GIS signals lose their reach.
Other functionalities that are in high demand with consumers that connected cars are now able to provide are digital data and remote diagnostics, full vehicle health reports, data-only telematics, access to 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspots, live directions and integrated assistance. In particular, access to vehicle health information, updates and diagnostics can help improve safety for car owners and integrate with insurance providers for more tailored solutions.
It’s clear that technology is changing the way people drive, buy and build cars in a lasting and radical way. With looming 2030 targets posed by Europe, innovation is playing a key role in the sustainability agenda, but this is not the only area where technology is creating an automotive revolution: from improved safety to more integrated infotainment and support for more intelligent car alarms or personalised insurance, the future is most certainly digital.
About the author: Igor Valandro is Chief Executive of Air-Connected Mobility