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Seven Trends and Challenges Coming to the Automotive Sector in the Years Ahead

Fifth generation ADAS, advanced connectivity, reduced environmental impact, numerous technological innovations, car-sharing and industrial design with lightweight parts

Now and over the next few years, the motor industry faces significant challenges in a context of constant disruption. Many experts have captured this new context in seven trends that are neatly summed up by the phrase: “technology and production revolution in the sector.”

01 Sep 2021

That’s why the motor sector’s new event, Madrid Car Experience 2022, will cover all these challenges so that attendees can learn about each of them and how they will feature in the products of every one of the manufacturer brands and companies in the global motor vehicle industry.

Currently, this sector has turned out to be one of the most affected by the major crisis triggered by the global pandemic in 2020 and 2021, with a fall in registrations in 2020 that has meant, in Spain alone, falls of at least 32.3% compared to normalised figures for 2019.

Despite this, the sector is still immersed in a race between technological improvements affecting environmental performance, electrification, comfort, and connectivity systems and actively participating in the infrastructure sustainability improvement projects and existing technological needs.

On the other hand, European industry is facing the need to adapt each new product launch to the emission reduction targets set by the European Union, both in timing and in emissions volumes, all of them very urgent because of the imperative need to collaborate as far as possible to clean up our already damaged planet.

Leading industry experts forecast the innovations and trends already taking place in the automotive sector, and that will undoubtedly mark the activity of the coming years, in the following figures:

Introduction of Artificial Intelligence and Improvements to the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) System in Vehicles:

Self-driving vehicles are still some way off, but they are the future, and many cars already drive themselves, although the driver always has to keep control.

Manufacturers are already developing the 4th generation ADAS to achieve fully autonomous driving, allowing very direct and technologically advanced driver assistance. However, it’s clear that it will not yet be suitable for many vehicles on the market.

It will be the 5th generation that will achieve driving with no human interaction through the detailed application of artificial intelligence in vehicles’ every neural network, by deploying new technologies to process big data to attain total interaction in mobility, although in reality adaptation of the necessary external infrastructures for achieving this ambitious goal seems to be some way off.

Exponential Development of Vehicle Connectivity Systems:

The arrival of 5G over 2021 and 2022 will mark a turning point in connectivity and its technological expansion, allowing connections between vehicles and infrastructures and even with users and pedestrians that were impossible until now.

This will happen through V2X (Vehicle-to-everything) technology which is being widely developed to make vehicles ready for continuous connection with the systems to receive higher-level instructions and information like the infrastructure of cities and roads to generate more intelligence.

Several projects underway in Spain are already developing technologies through systems that allow these better contacts with infrastructure, traffic signals and analysis systems for routes and needs (for example, the Mobility 2030 project), as in many parts of the world today.

Car = Digital Device:

Humanity has been living through an experience with mobile devices that points to a trend in the automobile world towards a growing and unstoppable digitalisation of vehicles to enable a car to provide many other functionalities besides mobility.

Vehicles in the future will undoubtedly be fully digitalised products that incorporate many applications for information or driving assistance systems and, of course, also for entertainment.

Shift to All-Electric Propulsion at the Expense of Conventional Internal Combustion Engines:

For years, we have been living through the first triggers of this trend, with manufacturers gradually introducing models in this trend towards electrification, with more than 13 million electric cars currently on the roads worldwide (already 3% of global registrations).

Because of these innovations and the widespread introduction of electrified vehicles (hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric and, soon, hydrogen fuel cell), there can be no doubt that the trend has already begun its unstoppable march to satisfy the market’s changing demands, with the goal of eventually having all vehicles electric-powered within years.

Already in 2021, we are experiencing a clear acceleration of this trend, which is also being encouraged by many governments in their markets (for example, in Spain, the current MOVES III Plan that offers up to €7,000 for purchasing a replacement electric car). That’s why many brands already confirm that they already have or will soon have fully electric versions or models in all their product ranges, coexisting with traditional combustion engines but encouraging drivers to use and enjoy this new mobility alternative.

Growth of Car Sharing and Rentals for Urban or Global Use:

There’s no doubt that using the diverse systems of shared use or specific rental for use is growing worldwide, especially in large cities.

With the new management systems and those in the pipeline, users (mainly the youngest) already increasingly prefer vehicles owned by third parties or companies to allow rational use of each resource at specific times. So, before long, vehicle manufacturers will begin selling management of kilometres, not just vehicles.

Lighter Materials for Big Reductions in Production and Engineering Costs:

The new technologies being incorporated in vehicles are increasing production costs, while market reality is forcing a price stabilisation without passing on cost increases.

That is why manufacturers are also making and will make every effort to cut materials and process costs significantly and implement impressive cost control systems in all their manufacturing plants.

The key lies in developing and inventing new, lighter and more efficient parts with a positive environmental impact and the production and consumption of newly-developed vehicles.

All this means that there can be no doubt that the automotive sector is engaged in a major change process that constitutes a real industrial, commercial, and technological revolution towards a much more sustainable future in all aspects and markets, so we will live through many and profound changes in the coming years with an industry and user preferences that will be completely changed and adapted to new mentalities and needs.

Madrid Car Experience 2022 will be the event at which all these current and future implications will be shown directly to potential users to collaborate in this sustainable development effort that we all expect from the motor sector in the years to come.

Captions: Motor Mundial magazine