A few years ago, I Techmunch’d about how the UK is leading the automotive shift towards driverless cars and how motor companies will evolve from nuts and bolts mechanics, to becoming some of the world’s biggest tech giants. Judging by the news announced at the Paris Auto Show last month, it looks like they’ve done just that.
In this week’s post, we’re looking at what’s changing in the automotive industry.
CLEAN TECH GETS A MAKEOVER
There’s no doubt that Paris 2016 was dominated by electric vehicles. If you still think that Toyota Prius’ are what “environmentally friendly” cars look like, you’d be very wrong. Electric and hybrid cars have moved far beyond trying to appeal to the eco-warriors and environmentalist to become some of the most desirable vehicles on the market.
Driven largely by the success of Elon Musk’s revolutionary Telsa Model S, a luxury electric salon, there has been a flurry of competition in the market. We’ve seen Volkswagen and Mercedes launching sexy new concepts that are so advanced, we could see battery powered vehicles go mainstream by 2020. Earlier this year we also saw the iconic BMW i8 being launched at CES, proving that even hybrid vehicles can meet design perfection.
The difference between these cars and those of a decade ago are that now the eco-friendly technology has been fine-tuned, the focus is now on the design. These cars have sleek lines, high power and meticulous attention to detail. They’re ready for the affluent, image conscious, car enthusiast who expects the same experience with an electric car as they would in its petrol counterpart.
Car manufacturers have come to the realisation that if mass uptake of electric transport is to happen, electric vehicles need to be aspirational to the consumer, not a reflection of the stereotype.
CARS HAVE STARTED TALKING
Not literally of course. Many leading manufacturers, like Jaguar, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, are testing systems that allow cars to communicate between each other via NFC (Near Field Communication) Chips and built-in SIM cards.
The idea behind this is that cars running these systems will be able to alert drivers of potential hazards and obstructions via a transfer of data long before humans can.
Imagine you’ve hit an unexpected icy patch of road, a pothole or pass a hazardous broken down vehicle, the car will automatically send out a signal to alert other drivers on the same system. A pretty innovative use of real-time data and a welcomed innovation for sure!
APPLE TO JOIN THE RACE WITH THE iCAR?
Interestingly, it’s not just automotive manufactures leading the innovation march.
You may be aware of the rumours circulating, but Apple is apparently working on The Apple Car. Expected to hit our roads in 2020, the iCar will likely revolutionise the automotive industry, much like it did with the iPhone; with driverless control, connected payments, and fully immersed in the Apple ecosystem.
We’ve seen Apple quietly hire leading automotive and driverless car experts, secretly searching for driverless testing grounds and one that nobody saw coming, an apparent bid from Apple to buy McLaren.
But would a car from Apple actually work? It would make sense: CarPlay, Apple Pay, the AppStore, finger print scanners and iTunes all incorporated into a driverless vehicle? They’d be unstoppable!
In classic Apple style, they’ve stayed very tight lipped with nothing being announced just yet. But with the possibility of Apple blowing the industry wide open for technology companies, will other players, like Samsung and Android, follow suit?
THE CONNECTED CAR WILL CONTROL THE CONNECTED HOME
Even over the past five years, cars have moved from a race of horsepower and number of cup holders, to huge innovations in technology that arguably haven’t been seen in the consumer technology industry for years.
The latest multimedia systems allow for emails to be received and sent, twitter updates and call alerts.
Next year we’re expecting cars to further connect to the home, via their infotainment systems, to let home owners control their heating, alarm systems and kitchen appliances when on the move.
An unnecessary step too far? Perhaps. But given the option, I’m sure we all like the idea of having a pot of freshly made coffee ready for us when we get home.
Ben Fletcher, Account Manager, Technology
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August 1, 2019