Today’s economies are undergoing dramatic transformations due to emerging market development, the rapid rise of new technologies, sustainability policies, and shifting consumer ownership preferences. Other industries have been transformed by digitisation, increased automation, and new business models, and the automotive industry will be no exception. These forces give rise to four disruptive technology-driven automotive trends: diverse mobility, autonomous driving, electrification, and connectivity.
Eventually, automated technology will increasingly enable the car to serve as a platform for drivers and passengers to consume novel media and services while in transit or to devote the freed-up time to other personal activities. Because of the increasing speed of innovation, particularly in software-based systems, cars will need to be upgradeable. As shared mobility solutions with shorter life cycles become more common, consumers will be more aware of technological advances, increasing demand for upgradability in privately owned cars.
Consumer preferences are changing, regulations are tightening, and technological breakthroughs are causing a fundamental shift in individual mobility behaviour. Individuals increasingly use multiple modes of transportation to complete their journeys; goods and services are delivered to consumers rather than fetched by them. As a result, the traditional car-selling business model will be supplemented by diverse, on-demand mobility solutions, particularly in dense urban environments that actively discourage private-car use.
Because of consumers’ new habit of using tailored solutions for each purpose, new segments of specialised vehicles designed for very specific needs will emerge. For example, the market for a car designed specifically for e-hailing services—that is, a car designed for high utilisation, robustness, extra mileage, and passenger comfort—would already be in the millions of units today, and this is only the beginning.
Stricter emission regulations, lower battery costs, more widely available charging infrastructure, and growing consumer acceptance will create new and strong momentum for electrified vehicle penetration (hybrid, plug-in, battery electric, and fuel cell) in the coming years. The interaction of consumer pull (partially driven by the total cost of ownership) and regulatory push will determine the rate of adoption, which will vary significantly at the regional and local levels.
Local differences are expected to become less pronounced as battery technology and cost improve, and electrified vehicles are expected to gain market share from conventional vehicles. Because battery costs are expected to fall over the next decade, electrified vehicles will be cost-competitive with conventional vehicles, providing the most significant catalyst for market penetration. At the same time, it is important to note that electrified vehicles include many hybrid electrics, implying that the internal-combustion engine will remain very relevant even after 2030.
Electric motors and the associated optimisation areas, lightweight construction, and CO2 emission reduction are critical issues for the automotive industry. Nonetheless, the interior of the vehicle must be noticed. After all, the interior is the part of the car that the driver sees the most, so it must be functional, aesthetically pleasing, and lightweight. Using natural fibres as alternative interior materials are essential and represent another step toward greater sustainability.
Circularity is regarded as a critical strategy in EV design. Industry leaders are making significant investments to retool production and assembly plants and source alternative materials for what makes a car – from its exterior to seat upholstery and even floor mats – in their quest to build zero-emissions, fully-recyclable vehicles. The term “circular car” refers to a hypothetical vehicle that generates no material waste throughout its entire value chain, including manufacturing, production, and use.
Long-term success in the automotive industry is achieved primarily through consistent innovation strategies, strong branding, global efficiency across the value chain, and qualified and motivated employees. Research and development are the keys to long-term success; after all, no other industry invests more in this area than the automotive industry. The automotive industry is undergoing the greatest upheaval in its history. Megatrends like emission reduction, lightweight construction, automated driving, connectivity, and mobility services have permanently altered the landscape. In line with these trends, the supplier industry is adapting and undergoing fundamental changes.
The widespread innovation initiatives in the fields of autonomous driving and electric mobility present the opportunity to reevaluate and redesign the automobile’s interior. The vehicle’s interior must be transformed into a more appealing living space. This can be accomplished, for example, by using appealing surfaces made of sustainable materials. The interior is becoming increasingly important in purchasing decisions. As a fusion, it evokes emotions, provides comfort, safety, and functionality, and exudes brand identity. A vehicle’s interior is divided into six assemblies: the cockpit, seats, door and side trim, headliner, luggage compartment, and floor trim. The developments in this area result from a balancing act between the need to innovate and the need to keep costs low.
Manufacturers and suppliers face challenges with the new hybrid materials and vehicle concepts. Because the appearance conveys a direct impression of quality, which is especially important for premium brands, the lightweight construction required for this should continue to offer the best surfaces in the interior.
As a result, corresponding solutions using bio-composite materials are critical, as supplier Dräxlmaier demonstrates with his Kenaf door trim for the BMW i3 electric vehicle. The part is entirely made of natural fibre-reinforced polypropylene with functional elements. As more consumers care about the environment, more natural materials will be used in the automotive industry. The centre’s primary goal is to protect the environment through up-cycling, which is the process of transforming byproducts and waste materials.