Innovations Driving the Automotive Industry
May 15, 2023
Most, if not all, are aware of the remarkable innovations the automotive industry has witnessed in recent years. Electric vehicles (EVs), autonomous driving, connected cars, 3D printing, and cybersecurity are some emerging trends that help transform this evolving industry.
According to a report by McKinsey, such advancements may contribute over $1.5 trillion to the automotive industry's value by 2030.
So let’s take a quick look at these drivers of innovation and see what the future could hold for tomorrow's automobiles.
Year after year, more and more governments are driving regulations to accelerate the consumers’ transition to EVs. More customers demand cleaner energy, looking towards alternative sources such as solar power. Battery technologies continue to improve, aiming to achieve better mileage per watt, and are expected to boost EV sales and continue on an upward trend. Today, major car manufacturers such as Tesla, Volkswagen, and General Motors, to name a few, are investing billions in EV technology and production. According to a report by Deloitte, global EV sales reached 2.5 million units in 2020, and sales are expected to increase tenfold by 2030—a pretty massive jump in 10 years.
Why the huge demand for EVs?
Simple, EVs offer several benefits over the traditionally gasoline-powered cars of today. Emissions are reduced to zero, eliminating air pollution and improving the air quality in those countries that have chosen to adopt EVs and replace gasoline-run engines. Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, EVs also offer lower operating costs for the consumer. Firstly, electricity is typically cheaper than gasoline, especially in today’s market, where gasoline is at a premium. Second, EVs require less maintenance due to the absence of complex internal combustion engines. This simplifies the inner workings of a vehicle and makes it less prone to costly visits to the local garage to keep a vehicle road worthy.
With more and more features evolving as we speak, the argument for doing so seems compelling already. However, this new infrastructure does come with some downsides. Involving a more electronic approach to vehicle design incorporates more semiconductors and other new technologies, which may inevitably make the purchase of an EV quite expensive up front. Add in the barrier of limited charging infrastructures available, keeps the EV from full adoption around the world. Nonetheless, many argue that the pros outweigh the cons in whether or not to replace the traditional vehicle with Electric Vehicles.
Driverless technology or autonomous driving has the potential to disrupt the transportation industry. Advancements in this field not only help improve safety features in our vehicles but can help reduce traffic congestion and even provide an enhanced mobility experience for people with disabilities as well. According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global autonomous vehicle market is expected to reach $556.67 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 39.47%.
Autonomous Vehicles, or AVs, use a combination of sensors, cameras, and machine learning algorithms to safely navigate through roads and avoid obstacles in front or within the proximity of a vehicle. Companies like Waymo, Cruise, and Uber are conducting extensive testing and developing partnerships to improve AV technology's reliability. As expected with any new developing technology, challenges still stand in the way of the total proliferation of AVs, including some safety concerns, legal and regulatory frameworks, and consumer acceptance, to name a few key challenges. Nonetheless, as AV manufacturers find better means to solve these issues, it will only be a matter of time before AV becomes the norm more than a dream. AI is taking the world by storm with its applications in our daily lives. Its role in helping vehicles navigate our streets safely and reliably will be inevitable.
Firstly, what is a Connected Car?
These Connected cars are equipped with advanced technologies such as IoT, AI, and big data analytics, enabling communication between the vehicle and its surrounding environment, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the globally connected car market is expected to reach $166.0 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 25.2%.
Intervehicle communication and relevant infrastructure systems that can help improve safety and ease traffic congestion in denser areas will be made possible. This capability to access information in real-time will pave the way for features like real-time traffic updates, remote vehicle diagnostics, personalized entertainment systems, and more. However, cybersecurity threats, data privacy concerns, and interoperability issues have still slowed the adoption of connected cars.
The possibility of a fully-connected vehicle opens up avenues for e-commerce as well. Full integration into payment gateways, like e-wallets and possibly, cryptocurrencies, could usher in many new ways drivers can navigate the world around them. Integrated toll, parking, and fees could be handled in-car. Infotainment apps that are updated on the go to bring users real-time content from anywhere. If manufacturers can secure people’s data in these vehicles, the connected car will open up new markets and economies.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has already helped improve the manufacturing process across several industries, including the automotive industry. According to a report by SmarTech Analysis, the global market for 3D printing in the automotive industry is expected to reach $5.3 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 26.3%.
There are several advantages 3D printing brings over traditional manufacturing methods, such as the reduced time and cost of producing complex parts and prototypes. 3D printing also enables manufacturers to produce parts with greater precision and accuracy, reducing waste and improving efficiency. Additionally, 3D printing can make customization for individual customers easier to implement, thus improving customer satisfaction. With the onset of 3D printing using metals, parts developed using 3D printing technologies are lighter than their usual metallic counterparts and can provide better fuel efficiency, especially for industries that require it. Therefore, more lightweight specialized components that are 3D printed will improve a vehicle’s overall fuel efficiency simply by trimming down the fat.
However, with all these advantages, 3D printing is not without its set of downsides. These include limitations on materials since not all plastics or metals are viable for 3D printing applications. Print size is limited due to the smaller print chambers of the 3D printer itself; therefore, more extensive parts must be printed into segments that are later put together or assembled after production. Some 3D prints also require post-processing steps, such as cleanups of excess or support materials. These methods include water jetting, sanding, a chemical rinse and rinse, air or heat drying, assembly, and more. While 3D printing is excellent for quick prototyping, it becomes more costly when mass-producing a large volume. Imagine having to create a full production line of industry-grade 3D printers. Costly indeed; a caveat people need to consider about this technology. Also, as this technology becomes more and more available to the public, fake and counterfeit products may start to proliferate, and it will be difficult to determine authenticity.
According to a report by Frost & Sullivan, the global market for automotive cybersecurity is expected to reach $3.29 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 22.6%. As cars become more connected and automated, the risk of cybersecurity threats such as hacking and ransomware attacks inevitably increases. In 2015, a pair of hackers hacked a Jeep and took control of the vehicle. Read about that experience from the driver’s point of view here. Although this was a predetermined security demonstration, it unveiled security vulnerabilities, even for conventional vehicles. For connected cars, updates will be done through the cloud, which could open up risks for hackers to intercept your data while on the road.
Automobile manufacturers are spending money on cybersecurity tools like encryption, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems to address this issue. Additionally, to create best practices for defending connected vehicles from cyberattacks, automakers are working with cybersecurity specialists to ensure the safety and security of these newer connected vehicles.
The Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Auto-ISAC), founded in 2015 by a group of automakers, including General Motors, Ford, and Toyota, is one instance of this kind of cooperation. The automobile sector uses Auto-ISAC to exchange knowledge and best practices around cybersecurity.
The Partnership for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE), established in 2019 to inform the public about the advantages and difficulties of autonomous vehicles, is another illustration. PAVE, which strives to support the secure development and use of automated cars, comprises representatives from the automobile industry, technological firms, and advocacy organizations.
Governments are also taking action to mitigate the cybersecurity threats of connected automobiles and industry activities. Guidelines for connected car cybersecurity were released by the US Department of Transportation in 2016 and contain suggestions for risk analysis, threat identification, and incident response.
However, the automotive industry continues to face cybersecurity challenges despite these measures. According to the cybersecurity company Kaspersky, approximately 2.9 million cyberattacks on connected automobiles were discovered in the first half of 2021, a 130% rise from the same period in 2020. Unauthorized entry into automotive systems and data theft were the two most prevalent assault types.
Addressing the cybersecurity dangers posed by connected and autonomous car technologies as the automotive sector continues to innovate and improve them will be crucial. Therefore, auto manufacturers, cybersecurity professionals, and governmental organizations must work together to develop practical solutions to safeguard connected vehicles from online dangers.
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