The road ahead for the automotive industry will be paved with technology and high-connectivity. In the years to come, automakers will be doubling down on their bet that the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to be the source of next-generation innovation for the auto business.
It sounds like a pretty safe bet.
In fact, Business Insider predicts there will be 381 million connected cars on the road by 2020. That would be a sharp jump from the 36 million connected cars cruising around in 2015. Business Insider also anticipates that 82% of all cars shipped in 2021 will be connected cars. That would represent a 35% compound annual growth rate from the 21 million connected cars in 2016.
Car connectivity comes either through a built-in antenna and sensor hardware, or through tethering with external hardware such as smartphones or smart watches.
The future of the industry will also continue to be driven by driverless cars. There will be an estimated 10 million self-driving vehicles on the roads by 2020. Not to be confused with driver-assist, self-driving cars travel - steer, speed up, and stop - without a driver in the vehicle.
Self-driving vehicles is not likely to be commonplace in the next couple of years, though. That’s due, at least in part, to the need for clarification of government regulations regarding this technology. Even though we’ve already seen self-driving vehicles on the roads in America -- prototype vehicles being tested by tech heavy-hitters such as Google, not all consumers are on board with this innovation. Gaining that consumer comfort level and confidence in the technology may take more time.
More palatable to consumers is driver-assist technology. Driver-assisted vehicles are outfitted with lots of cameras, sensors and equipment aimed at making driving safer by reducing the opportunities for collisions. Among the many driver-assist features we have already seen are lane-change assist, blind spot detection, lane departure warnings, and parking assistance. We will see more conveniences come down the line in the driver-assist category in the near future.
Another automotive industry trend that has already started taking root in 2017, and will be more of a bigger deal in the years to come, is Blockchain technology. By establishing a trusted and accurate set of steps for dealing with the automotive parts supply chain, Blockchain tech is expected to help address the problem of counterfeit vehicle parts in circulation. The resulting system of checks and balances for the supply chain involves cloud services recording and verifying all transactions within the whole supply chain.
On the maintenance and repair side of automobile ownership in the future, IoT can enable sensors inside vehicles to communicate with the manufacturer and vice-versa. The manufacturers’ computers can send data to the cars’ computers regarding the real-time status of car components. This enables data analyzation which can detect the potential for part failures before they occur – and these innovations will dramatically transform the auto repair industry.
Imagine being able to know whether a dealership’s repair shop has your vehicle’s replacement part without you having to see or speak to an employee in that shop. David Gauze, Advertising Manager at AutoBodyToolMart, says that the auto repair industry, as well as the automotive aftermarket business, will be seeing some big changes, all of which will benefit the consumer. 'Automotive aftermarkets and repair shops will both undergo a major shift in a few short years,' said Gauze. 'Repair shops will be much more automated, repair diagnoses will be more precise, and car owners will be able to be much more proactive with a whole new set of automated alerts.'
An automobile with IOT connectivity can, in theory, can set-up a repair work request at the shop for you. Pair that with self-driving technology and you would never have to set foot in a repair shop again. Payment for repair services could be done from a distance with smartphone integration, IOT connectivity, and other payment-related technology.
'Streamlined steps for automobile repairs and maintenance is a very real possibility, given the breakthroughs already made with IOT,' said Gauze. 'The changes ahead of us in the automobile business will not only involve how vehicles look and operate, they will also involve how repairs, restorations, and maintenance are done.'
And speaking of payments and cars … who wouldn’t want to make payments for services like gas and parking without having to get out of the car -- maybe not even having to roll down a window? The potential for that is too significant for a secure and seamless payment platform within vehicles to not take off in the very near future, said CardTek co-founder Erdal Yazmaci. CardTek is a provider of end-to-end payment solutions of technology.
'The development of a secure in-car payment platform makes a lot of sense for consumers, and it opens the door of opportunity for automakers, payment companies, and merchants to provide a more convenient experience for their customers,' Yazmaci added.
Fasten your seatbelts. We’ll be barreling down a long road filled with twists, turns and lane changes as we continue through this fast evolution of the automobile.