How Apple Car Will Affect the Auto Industry

The most important automotive trends: What does the future of the automotive industry look like?



There is hardly any other market in which long-term forecasts and current key figures are as contradicting as in the automotive industry. The Federal Environment Agency According to the global vehicle population grew from 275.64 million in 1978 to over 1.16 billion in 2019. In Germany alone, 620,000 more vehicles were on the road last year. On average, cars are getting bigger and more powerful. So put it Federal Motor Transport Authority found that the SUV in particular is enjoying increasing popularity.

On the other hand, there are the megatrends of mobility change -Sustainability and digitization - which could weaken these developments sooner or later.

Manufacturers face the challenge of satisfying the needs of the present without being overwhelmed by the future and disruptive trends. In addition, the corona crisis will change the automotive industry in the long term and influence the trends - in which direction it remains to be seen. This results in new developments for the change in mobility that can definitely be viewed as an opportunity.


The automotive industry at a turning point

The area of ​​environmental protection seems to be gaining more and more importance and is increasing the pressure on car manufacturers. Since 2018, there have been diesel driving bans at critical points in the inner-city road network, some of which have been voluntarily imposed by municipalities and some have been sued by environmental associations. E-mobility, which is still struggling with the teething problems of insufficient range and inadequate charging station infrastructure, should make the traffic of the future climate-neutral.

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The influence of politics on automotive trends

In 2019, the climate cabinet set up by the federal government decided to expand electricity tapping points across the board and introduce a series of tax breaks in order to promote the electrification of mobility. By 2030, according to the declared goal, seven to ten million electric vehicles should be buzzing through the country. By then, the energy density and thus the range should double even with conventional batteries and ensure greater acceptance among the population. New technologies, such as solid-state batteries, which promise a range of more than 1000 km, are, however, still speculative and cannot be expected until 2025 at the earliest Fraunhofer ISI.

Some ambitious states do not want to rely on advancing development and incentive systems alone. Denmark, Ireland, Israel, Nepal, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden plan to no longer allow new vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2030. Norway even wants to advance by 2025. The end of the internal combustion engine is not without economic consequences. The Frauenhofer ISI assumes that production plants in the powertrain sector, which have a strong focus on combustion engines, will face difficult times accompanied by job cuts. However, providers in the field of e-mobility and the battery ecosystem - battery cell factories, material value chain, research and development, mechanical and plant engineering - are the winners.


Trend 1: E-mobility and the peak car phenomenon

The good environmental intentions, however, threaten to fail because of the hard facts of reality. Raw materials experts point out that there is basically enough material, but if the switch to electric cars happened too quickly, there would be no way of meeting the demand. In particular, the complicated production of lithium requires a correspondingly long lead time. A short-term production adjustment to a sudden demand is simply impossible.

The result is the peak car - the turning point at which the kilometers traveled in private vehicles no longer increase.

Manufacturers are preparing for this point and want to sell fewer vehicles as property and offer more mobility as a service in the future. An example of this is free float car sharing, in which the car can be rented and parked anywhere in a larger area. Although this model is not yet generating any real profit, and the market leader has recently withdrawn from several cities, this is likely to change as soon as internal combustion engines are banned and the supply cannot satisfy the demand for electric vehicles. Even if other municipalities follow the example of Milan, London and Stockholm and charge a toll in the city center in order to relieve this, the car sharing model is on the winning road.


Trend 2: The development of autonomous driving

It is undisputed in specialist circles that autonomous driving will come at some point. The only question is when. Optimistic forecasts expect that 10 to 15 percent (Statista) the vehicles are driverless and one Study by Deloitte assumes that by 2035 every third trip will be in an autonomous vehicle. Today's car sharing will turn into a billion dollar robo-taxi market and mobility is available to everyone at all times. Owning your own car would therefore become obsolete, especially in urban regions, and the peak car would then be reached at the latest.

The hurdles for autonomous driving

Until then, however, there are still a few stages of development, both technologically and legally, to be mastered. The technological status quo in the five-level model of the degree of automation has now reached level 3, highly automated driving. Traffic jam assistants, for example, are able to control the vehicle up to a certain speed without the driver's influence and to inform him in good time when the traffic jam clears or an exit is approached. However, the legal framework for the use of such systems has not yet been clarified at all or only incompletely in many places. After all, the United Nations has now passed internationally binding rules that are due to come into force in January 2021. If you would like to know more about autonomous driving and its level, please read our article on the subject.

The Alphabet subsidiary Waymo has been working as a pioneer of autonomous mobility on the World's Most Experienced Driver since 2009, an AI that has covered millions of miles on public roads and billions of miles in the simulator and should be prepared for every conceivable situation. Sensors continuously scan the environment while the software makes predictions for the future and reacts accordingly.


Trend 3: Mobility change through connected cars

The connected car (networked driving) goes one step further. The car no longer only depends on the input of its own sensors, but also interacts with other vehicles and objects in its environment. In this way, it can, so to speak, look around corners and react in good time to situations that are otherwise invisible and potentially dangerous. The data streams that are exchanged via the Internet of Things are gigantic, which is why 5G network coverage is a prerequisite.

Connected cars are not only used for autonomous driving: card packs in the navigation device, content in the multimedia system and even power and safety upgrades can be booked over the Internet. Smart home devices are controlled from the car using voice commands. Insurance companies can adapt their tariffs to driving behavior.

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Anyone who ignores the automotive trends has already lost

If traditional companies in the automotive industry want to bridge the gap between the present and the future, they have to evolve from pure vehicle manufacturers to software companies. Google, Uber and Tesla have long understood that data is the new oil and are masters at aggregating it and deriving customer-oriented services from it.

"The probability that the leading domestic industry will win the race for the mobility of the future is only 50 percent",
VW CEO Herbert Dies warned as early as 2018. And affirmed in an incendiary speech at the beginning of the year that the days of classic car manufacturers were over:

“I can still remember one time when I had Nokia employees explain to me how they perished in the fight against Apple. The logic was: 'We have 43 different mobile phones, the right one for everyone, nobody wants touch, you have to charge the iPhone at least once a day while our battery lasts for a week.' And: Nokia had record years, but was practically dead. Steve Jobs, on the other hand, understood that the function of the device had fundamentally changed. Access to the Internet became more important than the telephone itself. That is exactly the situation that is repeated in the automotive industry. "

Only unlike Nokia have local manufacturers recognized the zeitgeist. In addition to focusing on our own developments, new alliances have been created. Former competitors are now partners as well as companies from the AI ​​sector. The future: it can come.