Few industries have been left untouched by the digital revolution, with software, manufacturing, marketing, and consumer shopping all being influenced by the vast opportunities technology has opened. The automotive industry has faced the infiltration of technology, and as Patrick James TRICO CEO has experienced, you either embrace the changes or get prepared to be left behind. By the end of 2020, over $82 billion will have been spent to increase the amount of tech used in the automotive industry, and there are a few trends that are currently commanding the most attention.
The Digital Shift in Car Buying
Many people used to dread the idea of heading to a car lot, as it proved stressful and nearly impossible to elude the pesky salesman prowling the lot. It was also more difficult to assess whether or not the offer was really a good deal, as all consumers had were newspaper ads and the experiences of friends and family to go by. Thanks to digital sources, consumers are able to fully research the make and model of their desired vehicle long before they step foot on the lot.
In addition to the resources that can be found online for comparing vehicles, looking up warranties, and checking on prices, the showrooms of dealerships are changing. Audi dealerships offer showrooms in their London locations, where there are few real cars and plenty of giant video screens that give consumers a 360-degree look at every inch of a vehicle through virtual reality. Showrooms are becoming more digitized to adapt to consumer shopping preferences.
The Driverless Cars
There is a real possibility that cars will be able to drive themselves in the near future. GPS data, cameras, and sensors are just a few of the developments that will connect to the internet and run algorithms to handle all kinds of driving conditions or situations. There is hope that the automation of driving will reduce traffic accidents and related injuries or deaths. Lower incident rates could expect to translate into insurance savings for consumers across the nation.
Though already seen in various Tesla models, there are predictions that autonomous vehicles will soon be as normal and comfortable as riding an elevator. In the early days of the elevator, there was an operator to help run the service. As tech developments improved, there was soon no need for someone driving the elevator. The same thing will happen with autonomous vehicles. Many have concerns about the safety of this feature, and there is still much to be decided concerning the cybersecurity liability of connected cars.
The Enhanced Supply Chain and Manufacturing Processes
Digitization has already been used to transform the customer experience and personalize a response to meet the unique shopping needs. In the automotive industry, companies can use digitization to alter the supply chain and drive costs down for consumers. The different areas of contact along the supply chain provide massive amounts of data that can be used to figure out the specific areas of strengths and weaknesses. Digitizing the supply chain also accelerates the entire production process from design up to delivery.
The Internet of Things and communication through social media have elevated the ability of factories to get an immediate sense of what is needed in production. Artificial intelligence and advanced algorithms drive smart factories to manage workflow and adequate labor scheduling, pairing robots alongside human employees in factories and on assembly lines. Production rates increase while defect rates decrease, though it will take serious financial investment for many automotive plants to integrate this tech into their production lines. As further advancements are explored, the cost savings on the back end of installation should justify the initial expenses incurred in changing over to a smart factory.
The Informative Computer Systems
For many auto owners, vehicle maintenance doesn’t always land on the priority list. This means that many engines are long overdue for routine maintenance checks and parts replacement. As tech continues to influence the automotive industry, vehicles will do more than flash a check engine light when something goes wrong. With advanced self-diagnostic systems, drivers will receive instant alerts if sensors detect a problem. Rather than having to fix something that has already broken, this approach is proactive in reducing potential failures. This should increase the lifespan of the average automobile.
Michelin has developed this tech into its tire monitoring program. Predictive analysis and telematics monitor over-the-road usage and delivers real-time data to fleet managers. Managers are able to pinpoint problems before a problem occurs. As time goes on, digital interfaces will also alleviate the need to involve a mechanic for every maintenance need, as some systems will have corrective measures and updates delivered over the airways through connected technology.
There is a lot on the horizon concerning tech and the automotive industry. Both consumers and manufacturers stand to benefit from these trends taking root across the industry.