It is no secret: the automotive industry is one of the sectors at the forefront of industrial innovation. Travelling by car has long been a matter of mechanics and performance. Nowadays, the industry is moving towards new challenges that are completely redefining the vehicles we know.
Electronics has played a highly significant role in the automotive industry. Essential to the development of new technologies such as ADAS or Infotainment, it is also emerging more and more in products that were formerly purely mechanical. Exhaust systems now come equipped with systems that reduce engine noise, we can now integrate more innovative functionalities into car seats, and trailer couplings are now fully automated… More like improvement than pure innovation. There are also a number of applications and these are set to increase in the years to come.
By 2030, nearly 70% of new vehicles on the roads are likely to be equipped with ADAS (Advanced Driving Assistance Systems) applications, and 15% of them may even be completely autonomous. The race for this type of equipment was initiated by both the manufacturers and their suppliers. Some suppliers have even completely changed their strategy by focusing on these technologies, even though they came from niche markets, such as wiring harnesses or seats.
Connectivity and Infotainment: when automotive meets AI
Directly inspired by IoT, our vehicles are increasingly connected not only to each other but also to more global networks. This brings innovation to diagnostic and analytical tools, to traffic and location management and to HMI (Human Machine Interface) management. Competition is fierce, one example being Tesla’s latest models with a touch screen interface, an additional application and an automatic operating system update. HUDs, which originated from the aeronautical environment, should also become more popular.
New investments in e-Mobility
We have been talking about this for years, but it seems that manufacturers are finally ready to invest considerably in green technologies, such as hybrids and electrics. The global international context (COP 21) and the desire of some cities or countries to completely phase out the use of petrol or diesel vehicles have undoubtedly contributed to this. In addition, the fall in battery prices is expected to democratise these new means of transport. It is true that vehicle-charging standards (electrical sockets, wireless inductive charging, etc.) have yet to be defined, but manufacturers and their suppliers are not lacking in ideas.
Cyber security and functional safety
Data transmission and the popularization of electronics in cars bring new constraints in terms of cybersecurity and functional safety. While the second point is quite advanced in terms of standardisation, with ISO 26262, the first one remains a major work-in-progress for all market players, who are rushing to buy companies specializing in the field in order to prepare for this technological change as best as they can.
The design and style of road vehicles continue to evolve over the years, and this tendency will not change. Nevertheless, a major trend is expected to emerge in the coming years, with a revolution in interiors (seats + cockpits), linked to the democratisation of autonomous driving and the fact that drivers will become « less essential ». Manufacturers are starting to think about totally revamping their designs.