The Future of the Car

It’ll still be a while until cars start to fly and drivers stop driving completely. However, developments in the automotive industry are happening at breakneck speed. We asked experts from various sectors what they think will happen in the next ten years. There is a lot of room for improvement.

“Our quality-related work needs to become more agile.”

Autonomous and automated driving, electromobility and big data – all these developments mean increases in requirements and a lot more complexity. Therefore, we need to adjust our quality-related work in line with this: It needs to become more agile! 

Early-warning systems that carry out quick and clear failure analyses and the controlled change process must be sped up considerably. Today, far too much time elapses between detection and permanent eradication of failures. The interaction between mechanics, electronics and software also brings up new challenges, which must be overcome with complex analytic tools. Not only do we have to produce huge quantities of data, but we must also learn to master these huge quantities. Intelligent software systems will have to be able to link data together more and more efficiently for an even earlier visualization of failure trees. Ultimately, the complex requirements themselves also need to be scrutinized and systematically verified. Stringent requirement management is the key to a secure and robust development result.

Thomas Buda, Vice President Chassis Technology Head of Quality, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, Lemförde

“It all depends on the interfaces.”

The actual function of the car, which is locomotion, will shift further and further into the background. The selling point will actually be what the car can offer in terms of additional functions. Driving in itself, motor performance, acceleration, etc., will no longer play any role in this decision by 2027. The biggest challenge is managing interfaces and questions such as: Can I carry on an activity that I’d do in my house in the car? Can I watch TV there? Can I log in to Facebook? And can I listen to music that I’ve got on my smartphone in my car? The companies that have the answers to these questions and that can deliver the best interfaces will emerge victorious. This doesn’t mean simply bringing these services into cars. Support services must also be provided for them: If I subscribe to a music streaming service in the car but it stops working in my home, who do I call? I am certain that most people would contact their car manufacturer. Therefore, a solution needs to be thought out for these interfaces as well. 

Professor and Doctor of Engineering Robert Dust, endowed professor for the VDA at the Technical University of Berlin

“The established manufacturers will finally have to go digital.”

Distribution wars are already taking place today on many stages – not just within the classical car industry, but also with external entities. Amazon has joined the race for online vehicle distribution while Apple and Google are in the starting blocks for using cars as a networked end device. This is how the established manufacturers (where quality and safety is the priority) come into conflict with startups from Silicon Valley (agile with a can-do attitude). German automotive executives are striving to climb the digital learning curve, which is imperative in the fight to unlock new fields of activity and, above all, in defending their established business models. The car is no longer the main focus, but rather a positive, efficient and ecological mobility experience. If the established manufacturers want to keep hold of their leading positions in this changing industry structure, they will have to digitalize their structures and processes, conclude partnership contracts with digital companies, become more agile and understand their clients better. They will have to undergo fundamental change in order to be successful in this new landscape. Up until now, many were lacking the digital expertise to be able to compete with the new, dynamic challengers, who define software as the new petrol.

Dr. Juergen Reiner, Partner of the global Automotive und Manufacturing Practice, Oliver Wyman, Munich

“Only the most innovative will survive.”

In the next decade, the automotive industry will experience a revolution within its traditional industrial structures. Only the traditional OEMs that successfully implement innovative force will remain standing. Whoever keeps exploiting tried-and-tested technology for too long will disappear from the market. The mobility of people will undergo fundamental change. Many jobs will be lost in the move to Industry 4.0, and these must be replaced elsewhere. It will be nothing like the old economy, and the mobility profile of the population will change dramatically. Individual transport will change from business transport to leisure transport. This is because people hardly ever give up what they’re used to in terms of mobility. The 2027 car will, on average, be smaller and generally electric. Fewer people than today will own one, because more cars will be available for spontaneous use – just for the current purpose. On the way there, we’ll find out who wants to be a global player.

Peter R. Nestler, Editor-in-Chief, Q1 – Magazine for Integrated Management Systems, Vienna

“The quicker the legislative framework comes into force, the quicker HAD will become ready for serial production.”

Highly Automated Driving (HAD) is already a focal point in the industry. Questions surrounding reliability, insurance solutions and the liability of vehicle owners, manufacturers and operators are paramount in current dialogs. This does not affect the supplier industry much, but the quicker the legislative framework comes into force, the quicker HAD will become ready for serial production, and the supplier industry will also benefit from this. The challenges from the hugely increased connectivity that vehicles have with each other, the surrounding infrastructure and people in contact with the vehicle are at the heart of HAD’s issues. Data protection is the next and, currently, our latest challenge. In terms of liability, the integration of security in addition to safety will be the biggest hurdle for the supplier industry, which up to now has not been subject to such high demands. An inspection of the connectivity application area in terms of security, carried out during the development phase, will become standard practice for every product. Equally the risks which stem from this and the interfaces to other connected services will be the responsibility of the supplier. The systematics for this and the corresponding knowledge should be built up as quickly as possible. Software and related supporting systems will become indispensable in the medium term.

Attorney Daniel Wuhrmann, Reusch Legal Consultants, Berlin

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