June 02nd, 2021
What does the future hold for the automotive industry? After a tough year in 2020, things are definitely looking up, and there’s plenty of innovation and disruptive technologies to look forward to.
2020 has not been an easy year for the automotive industry, with new car sales dropping by 18 % and manufacturing having to slow down. As well as the pandemic, there are other influencers at play. Brexit will have a global impact upon vehicle manufacture and sales, not just in Europe.
However, with the latest emissions targets from the UK government plus the forthcoming Paris Agreement review at Glasgow in 2021, the electric vehicle industry will be given a mass production boost. With public transport costs increasing and a current reluctance to travel en masse, car ownership is an appealing option.
It’s a dynamic time for the automotive sector. Let’s take a look at some of the key trends coming up for car manufacturers.
Carbon dioxide makes up around two thirds of greenhouse gas emissions – and the biggest culprit is fossil fuels. The 2015 Paris Agreement saw 189 nations committing to curbing their emissions.
The five biggest carbon emitting countries are China, US, EU, India & Russia. With exception of Russia, they have committed to reducing their carbon levels by 2030. Targets vary and a consistent theme is the increase in electric vehicles.
In 2018, Chinese consumers bought 1.1 million electric vehicles - more than the rest of the world combined. To continue this pattern, the Chinese government has heavily subsidized the manufacture of electric cars and has sought to reduce the number of gasoline-powered cars on the road.
The size of the global electric vehicle market is expected to increase almost five-fold to reach an estimated global market size of some 803 billion U.S. dollars by 2027. This translates to a notable compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 20 percent between 2019 and 2027.
To achieve both the expected electric vehicle sales increase and the sustainability targets, affordability will need to become a greater priority for car manufacturers, as hybrid and battery electric vehicles are at the higher end of the market. To lower the production costs, manufacturers need higher volumes. Several countries launched incentive campaigns to accelerate the switch to e-mobility, and to allow offering cost-competitive vehicles.
As well as cost, there’s also the perception that electric cars are, well, a bit of a hassle. Battery technology is constantly improving; however, we’ll need to see a huge improvement in charging capabilities and infrastructure to reach these latest targets. As the grid itself becomes greener, electrification should result in a highly sustainable mobility solution.
Connectivity is going to be a major trend over the next few years. As well as improved infotainment for the driver and passengers, connected cars also provide invaluable data about road use. Artificial intelligence can be used to handle emergency situations, such as automatically calling for assistance and giving the exact location. Driving styles can be connected to insurance packages: the safer your braking, the lower your premium.
A downside is that as gadgetry improves and cars become increasingly sophisticated, the lifecycle of vehicles could be reduced. Consumers will opt for new vehicles with the latest tech rather than hanging on to their cars for longer, in apparent contradiction to the greener approach. Easier short-term leasing could be one of the solutions to this.
This still has a whiff of 1950s science fiction; however, driverless cars are creeping closer, and it’s anticipated that they could play a massive part in the future of automation. Recent technologies such as GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 5G are the starting points for autonomous cars.
Self-driving cars enable autonomous driving by sensing their environment. They identify the route, while avoiding obstacles and reading signage. An end to driver error? Could be a good thing, although we’re definitely still playing the long game with this one, in terms of domestic vehicles. The majority of research so far has been for long-distance haulage.
Had we been writing this in a pre-COVID era, we’d have discussed the potential of car sharing as one of our automotive industry trends. Car sharing became popular among city dwellers and younger drivers. You don’t own a vehicle; you just hire one when you need it. In a typical car share scheme, vehicles are parked around a city, and subscribers can access them 24/7. Unlike conventional rentals, this could be just for an hour, to take care of a supermarket trip.
As it is, people are now less willing to take hold of a strange steering wheel. So, we’ll park shared cars for the immediate future, but be aware that this is an upcoming trend.
As stated earlier, global new car sales fell by 18 % in 2020, after a buoyant 2019. Sales are predicted to pick up in 2021, with a particular increase in the electric car market share. It’s not just food and sweatpants we’ve been buying on the internet, and online vehicle sales will need to be built into business models across the automotive industry. Fewer showrooms and an improved online service are a significant trend for 2021.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s how to be agile, and automakers as well as the entire industry have had to adapt quickly. At Saint-Gobain, we’re working with the automotive industry to make sure they have the high-performance, reliable components they need.
Our team at Saint-Gobain are on hand to help you develop new technologies and use engineering to push boundaries. You can contact us using the contact us form or email us at: email@example.com. We’re on hand to discuss any engineering challenge you are facing.