Key Trends to Track in the Automotive Sector
The automotive sector in the UK is nothing short of a powerhouse, being a leading industry for skilled technical work and a key provider to GDP. It is also a lucrative vehicle for investment, as innovation continues to spark radical change and new avenues for profitability. But what are some of the key trends to track within the sector?
One automotive trend that has been dominating headlines lately is that of autonomous vehicles – that is, vehicles that drive themselves. Once in the realm of science fiction, vehicle autonomy looks very much to be an achievable goal in our lifetimes – and is a primary goal for a number of manufacturers and Silicon Valley tech giants.
While we are by no means close to complete AI-driven vehicles, the strides taken in the last decade are nonetheless impressive. There remains a healthy amount of scepticism around the technology, especially as certain AI programmes suffer costly – and sometimes tragic – failures on public roads. But with laws already changing to accommodate autonomous cars and the role of the driver, AI-driven cars look very much to be a fixture in the future of the automobile.
Autonomous cars represent the bleeding edge of car design and innovation, but many of the tools that enable autonomous driving are already in heavy commercial use. Sensors and smart technology define the current generation of cars, analysing exhaustive data sets to better control traction and breaking. This sensor technology is passing over from the car itself though, and into its tyres.
Modern car tyres are already advanced in design, utilising bespoke compounds of rubber and synthetics to provide consistent traction in a variety of environments and climates. But the future is even brighter, as smart technology enables a few outcomes. First, tyres can communicate even more information to cars, from the state of the roads to their own air pressure. Secondly, RFID chips can enable tyres to track and record mileage – creating the opportunity for a by-mile tyre subscription service over the current consumer model.
The Electric Revolution
Arguably the biggest real-terms trend in the global automotive industry is not one that reflects science-fiction fantasy, nor the growing second wave of IoT; rather, it is an automotive innovation over a century in the making. This innovation is, of course, the electric vehicle (EV).
EVs have been commercially available since even before the launch of the Nissan Leaf in 2010; indeed, electric vehicles were the most common form of motorised transport in the late 19th and early 20th century, before oil became an abundant resource and cheaper combustion engines wicked support away from electric design. Today, though, with the benefit of decades of research and technological advancement, electrical models are going toe-to-toe with their petrol-powered analogues.
EVs are particularly important to track due to the worsening climate crisis. Governments are feeling more intense pressure to act, and the UK government in particular has agreed to a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. The writing is on the wall for the internal combustion engine, and EVs are unavoidably the future of private motor transport as a result.