By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- January 28, 2016 -- One sure bet: The autonomous vehicle and connected car sectors will continue to run hot this year. Many new small start-ups are popping up in the space. One of these is a company called Airbiquity, which has just released a round-up of the big trends they see shaping connected cars in 2016.
There are at least three large-scale trends. Let's take a look at them one-by-one:
Increased Recognition of Automotive Leadership Threats by Non-Traditional Technology Players
It is no secret that well-known and highly capitalized Silicon Valley technology companies like Google, Apple, Tesla, Uber and Lyft are developing a new presence in the automotive sphere. These companies are declaring their “ambitions to be automotive industry disruptors and leaders.” Consumers are receptive “based on the dominance of their brands.”
According to Airbiquity, to counter this threat, traditional automakers will have to “fast-track internal transformations to adopt new technologies.” The OEMs will have to embrace “new ecosystem partners, and change outdated processes and procurement policies that are hindering progress.” So change has to happen, and fast. The good news according to Airbiquity is that automakers are “aware of the stakes” and taking action. The bad news: Staying ahead of the challengers is going to be a “daunting task” that will “test automaker management teams top-to-bottom.”
Tighter Integration of Connected Vehicle Programs with Product and Customer Life Cycles
Connected cars are going to be providing consumers with in-vehicle infotainment content. As a result connected cars will be unique in the ability to receive remote software updates to fix recalls and enhance features, as well as provide “data about vehicle operations and driving history.” These new levels of connections will present opportunities for “tremendous cost savings and consumer engagement.” Automakers will be able to reduce recall expense. Companies will be able to perform “real-time part and system evaluation, optimizing back-office operations...” Seizing these opportunities will require automakers to “better integrate the strategy and operations of connected vehicle service functions with long standing areas like design and engineering, customer experience and support, brand and marketing, and dealer channels.” Automakers are “maturing” in their relationships with connected vehicle service organizations, and “we expect this trend to continue through 2016 given the significant brand stakes and increasingly attractive return-on-investment.”
Increased Focus on Developing and Deploying Electrification and Autonomous Technologies
Automakers will also focus on increasing “investments for the development of technologies to improve electric vehicle performance and expand autonomous driving features” in 2016. As a result of low oil prices, consumer demand for electric vehicles may be low today, but increasing global warming concerns and efficiency mandates will press automakers to improve fleet efficiencies, according to Airbiquity. “Gas prices will eventually increase followed by consumer demand for more efficient vehicles across all price ranges. In response, automakers must ensure they have the right product at the right time to remain competitive.
As far as autonomous vehicles go, the future is clear: “It’s going to happen,” according to the report. “If automakers want a slice of the autonomous pie they have to develop and equip vehicles with enabling technologies. The road to fully autonomous vehicles will be a long one (Airbiquity predicts 2030-35) and there will be bumps along the way. To succeed automakers need to put their stakes in the ground now,” according to Airbiquity.
Commenting on the report, Scott Frank, Vice President of Marketing at Airbiquity, suggested that, “Automotive continues to face significant challenges—and opportunities—for connected car technologies and programs. The industry has only begun to scratch the surface of what is yet to come ... A decade ago, no one could have predicted the rate of technology evolution or level of competition the industry is experiencing today. One thing we know for sure is the pace isn’t going to letup; in fact it’s going to accelerate.”