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SMACing the Automotive industry: From concept to consumer Part 1

By - Asit Kumar Barma | 28 May 2014

Three key technology trends are making significant impact in the automotive industry today.

First, adopting faster & smarter technologies to accelerate product development and reduce costs. Simulation, modeling, virtualization of product engineering, prototyping and manufacturing are expected to improve quality, reduce costs and faster time-to-market from concept to consumer. Several technology companies are pioneering this approach to automotive, aerospace and discrete manufacturing industries.

Second, next-generation vehicle technologies are being explored to optimize fuel consumption and meet regulatory requirements. Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) is one such area of research among many others.

Third, and possibly the most significant, is the development of connected technologies coupled with Internet Of Things (IOT), Global Positioning System (GPS) & Social, Mobile, analytics and Cloud (SMAC) technologies. Moreover, advancements on platform and devices in terms of intuitive user interfaces, powerful processors, open source mobile platforms and display technologies are creating a highly favorable ecosystem for integrated in-vehicle solutions. Ford Sync, GM On-Star are few popular solutions among many others. Recently, Cadillac User Environment (CUE) system pre-fitted with all current Cadillac models has emerged as a robust infotainment solution.

Today, the cost of electronics in luxury vehicles is well over 25% of the total manufacturing cost. In the 70’s it was just 2.5%. This is expected to go up by over 50% within the next 5 years. One may be surprised that there are about 10 million lines of code, which drive a luxury automobile. In 1970, it was just 100 lines. It is also estimated that on an average, over 80% of the innovation and R&D cost is spent on electronics and embedded systems. Technology companies have never been more involved in automobile technology as they are today. Google’s driverless car initiative is well known. So are the similar initiatives from Microsoft and many other leading technology companies. Apple’s successful patent of in-vehicle dashboard infotainment design is another testimony to this.

What makes these technologies very interesting is that they fall at the intersection of four major industry sectors – Automotive industry OEMs & suppliers, electronics OEMs, software product development & service companies and Telecom service providers, with each looking to increase sales and drive business.

Google self-driving car is perhaps the biggest talking point in automotive circles. Having undergone more than 500,000 miles of testing, it is equipped with 4 radars, 64 beam laser at the top, GPS, wheel encoder & safety driver to avoid oncoming traffic, negotiate obstacles, travel pre-set route plans and thwart potential accident scenarios. Google aims to partner with leading OEMs, to provide this as the top technology platform for automobiles.

 Redefining consumer experience

The automotive sector today has to invest in creating a superior customer experience delivery system. With new-gen technologies like cloud, mobility, social media and big data, the traditional services like extended warranties, service contracts and insurance have been replaced with new services like infotainment, loyalty-linked rewards and promotion. True to its reputation of always being at the forefront of adopting new technologies and best practices, the automotive sector is all set to create an integrated multi-channel customer experience. For example, to take a test drive of a particular make of vehicle, one just needs to tweet, and there is no need to search for the nearest dealer.

To Be Continued….

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