October 22, 2021

Automotive Trends, Strategies & Vision – 2021 & Beyond

Automotive Trends, Strategies & Vision – 2021 & Beyond
Automotive Trends, Strategies & Vision – 2021 & Beyond

The automotive sector is undergoing dramatic changes. On several levels, global change, technological breakthroughs, and changing customer behaviour are all having an impact on the automobile business at the same time. Vehicle design, manufacturing, sales, maintenance, insurance, and financing are al ripe for revolutionary changes.

Here are some scintillating industry statistics:

  • The installation of AI-based systems will rise by 109% in 2025. Audi, Tesla, Hyundai, Benz, Nissan, and Kia are all working hard to include AI and automate their cars.
  • Annual production levels of robocars are expected to reach 800,000 units worldwide by 2030.
  • Over 1,400 self-driving cars, trucks, and other vehicles are currently being tested in 36 states in the United States by more than 80 companies.
  • Waymo has driven more than 20 million miles on public roads in 25 US locations and completed more than 20 billion miles of simulated testing with synthetically created data.

Over the next decade, technological improvements and customer expectations will be the main drivers of change. The focus on electric & autonomous automobiles is being driven by sustainability, and the requirement for new skills is producing employment shortages. At the same time, outside & newer competition is bringing new value to the industry and displacing established automakers.


Regardless of how quickly the future materializes, these 5 trends are for certain to impact the automotive industry soon:

Trend 1 - Vision Zero - Zero Accidents, Zero Security Breach & Zero Error

When it comes to preventing accidents and errors, automation can often make better decisions than the driver. For example, to avoid accidents completely, vehicles are communicating with one another, and the surrounding environment, at lightning speed.

The number of sensors on cars have skyrocketed, and hence cars will communicate, and can send multiple cues such as location, speed, direction, and braking status. This data collected can be fed into a collection of AI algorithms that can handle routing, behaviour, and trajectory of the car on the road. The algorithms can also handle every turn, vees around pedestrians and lane changes. These cars are running thousands of simulations to decipher the behaviours of other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists to take the best course of action on its own.

Personal privacy is being considered a major requirement, no personal information about the driver or vehicle will be broadcast using V2V, only generic safety information. The NHTSA is also working to make sure the systems are safe from a cybersecurity standpoint to ensure the data saved, in transit and sent is protected from any digital attacks.

Trend 2 - From Ownership to Usership – Newer Business/Usage Models

As the industry is maturing much faster than expected – the traditional car ownership models are slowly getting fragmented, and we are starting to see much more innovative models. Some interesting models happening now are:

  • Shared Rides
  • Subscription Models
  • Multimodal Journeys
  • Autonomous Cars
  • Autonomous Ride-Hailing Services
  • Car Ownership Models
  • Online automotive Sales and Dealerships

Trend 3 - Enhanced User Experience

While transitioning from ownership to usership is one path, establishing a fantastic user experience for the driver is another.

Increased automation opens a slew of new opportunities. The amount of time a driver spends driving the car is decreasing as automation advances. Because the driver is no longer required to keep an eye on the road, this time is suddenly freed up for new experiences such as in-car entertainment, more ADAS functions, or even advertising if done in an unobtrusive manner. Example - The British automotive company MG featured a personal AI assistant and first-in-segment Autonomous Level 2 technology. Designed by ‘Star Design’ – Human-like emotions and voices are portrayed by the AI assistant. It also answers users' questions on any topic in real time using Wikipedia.

Another example is the Robocar from Baidu. This car is with no steering wheels and brake pads relies entirely on smart intelligence for locomotion. Fitted with Zero-gravity chairs chairs that reduces the effects of gravity by placing the driver or passenger’s body in such a way that they feel weightless, thereby raising the comfort status quo. Furthermore, the automobile is said to have passed Level 5 autonomous driving criteria, indicating that it is capable of handling itself in any situation without human involvement.

Trend 4 - Digital Sixth Sense - Sensors in the Car will be able to Warn the Driver of Obstacles, which are not even Visible to them

Global Sensor Fusion Market for Autonomous Vehicles is to reach USD 22.2 billion by 2030 from an estimated USD 2.9 billion in 2021, at a CAGR of 25.4% during the forecast period.

Most drivers with modern systems are accustomed to receiving assistance from their vehicle, whether it is for parking or lane discipline. As technology advances and vehicles become more capable of communicating with one another via sensors, the automobile will be able to advise the driver of obstacles that are not apparent to them.

Advanced features like Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Automatic Emergency Braking, Intelligent Headlamp Control (IHC), and Rear Drive Assist (RDA). This is about detecting and alerting vulnerable road users as well as vehicles approaching from behind. Because of vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity, it's like an extra sensor that can glance around the corner.

The car's function as a data interchange point, both receiving and delivering data to others, is extremely valuable. It can be utilized to develop new services. This category of data exchange services is just getting started, and as more data is transmitted, new services will emerge. In addition, the developer ecosystem will produce new features.

Trend 5 - Digital Incubation & Monetization

In-car navigation systems, in-vehicle entertainment, and automation may be thought of as separate things now, but that will change soon providing an integrated customer experience with wonderful services of the future. These are some of the major reasons for new entrants to create value and money from the consumer by reducing the cost of the physical vehicle.

Some examples of customer experience features that you can expect soon are:

  • Drivers want to know about any changes or updates to their preferred route, such as lane closures or traffic jams.
  • Automatic valet parking, the car can detect changes as soon as they happen, such as when a parking spot becomes available. Because it has more and better information, the driver can find its parking spot. This information can also be used to help a driver make better decisions on the road.
  • Google (Android Auto) and Apple (Apple Car) are building connectivity platforms to provide better mobile to automotive connectivity and experience services.
  • Find my Car, Find Me – the car or the customer can find each other automatically and route/connect them to each other.

Future advancements, innovations, and new services must be accommodated in the car's design. Every customer expects the physical and virtual worlds to be seamlessly integrated.

My Thoughts & Strategies for Success for Auto OEMs

Here are the primary strategic priorities that automotive businesses should be focusing on to strike a balance between the demand to run a profitable business and the need to develop revolutionary technologies and business models:

  • Customer Centricity – Automotive OEMs must innovate and develop solutions swiftly to respond promptly to ever-changing consumer demands and market opportunities to acquire new customers and better business.

  • Mobility Services - Customers will transfer their loyalties away from brands and dealerships, towards integrated and convenient services with associated mobility options. New business models, such as pay-per-use and subscription-based mobility, will shape the future.

  • Engaging with a changing Workforce - Employers must rethink how they attract, retain, reskill, and retire employees since the skills that automotive firms demand are continually evolving. Automotive corporations' conventional engineering-driven skill sets are changing, and software capabilities will be required across the whole value stream.

  • Modular Design & Platforming – This will allow automakers to continue to produce a huge number of variants on a single platform and in a single plant, boosting flexibility and lowering overcapacity. The same approach will apply to infotainment systems, where standard displays, operating systems, software layers, and input devices will be used more frequently.

  • Electronic Systems – These will allow drivers to spend less time driving and more time doing other things while in their vehicles. With advancements in braking, steering, accident protection, and advanced driver-assistance systems, technology shifts in safety are also foreseen.

Future – Happening Now

Though Tesla stirred the pot and revolutionized the automotive industry, there are so many newer companies coming into the fray with amazing technological solutions. Looking at the innovation that is pushing boundaries of the automotive industry, there is an onslaught of aspiring new companies recently. Here are a few to review and understand the changes happening in the industry now.

Anyways, the next big obstacle in this space is going to be cost effectiveness of electric cars.

Final Thoughts

The vehicle is perhaps the most successful product, and there is little evidence that people want to give up what it provides: affordable, rapid, autonomous mobility across long and short distances. However, the industry is about to undergo several revolutions, ranging from car drivetrains to digitally connected ecosystems that are redefining driving and the consumer experience.

In all of these areas, automakers will need to develop expertise in technologies that has been established by other businesses. Many of the components of the new systems will be manufactured by market-leading specialists. These industry giants will provide automakers, who will find that purchasing this specialized technology rather than developing them in-house is more cost effective.

An innovative mindset is the key. Future breakthroughs will be made possible by software components, and each car provider will have to come up with its own solutions. As a result, new products, or new services, as well as new business models, must be developed. Automotive suppliers will have to be more adaptable and speedier than ever before.

Automobile manufacturers will have to collaborate with new digital enterprises and approaches. I also anticipate the emergence of hyper-efficient mega-factories. As a result, stable market shares and supplier relationships will be replaced by winner-take-all marketplaces for specialized technological goods that are required for the effective manufacture or use of automobiles. As a result of these changes, the industry will require a workforce with different skill sets than it does now. Having said that, the industry should still have a primary focus on its customers, customer experience and the quality of products it makes for them.

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This post was written by Asokan Ashok, the CEO of UnfoldLabs. Ashok is an expert in driving customer insights into thriving businesses and commercializing products for scale. As a leading strategist in the technology industry, he is great at recommending strategies to address technology & 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.


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