If you've seen the dark comedy "The Cable Guy," you certainly remember Jim Carrey maniacally yelling "The future is now!" in the middle of a thunderstorm. Well, it turns out the Cable Guy is right – the future has a knack of getting here sooner than we think. Just as the Internet changed how people watch television, it's also going to change the automotive industry in big ways.
ABI Research recently released its "Six Transformative Paradigms" that are going to lead the auto industry toward a smart and sustainable future over the next 25 years. These six paradigms are: The Software Defined Car, Sensors and Big Data, The Connected Car, Car Sharing and Driverless, Electrification, and Internet of Things and Cooperative Mobility. The first three shifts are already taking place, while the last three will occur in the next decade, all leading up to what ABI calls "smart, sustainable mobility."
Auto manufacturers are already incorporating "smart" features into their vehicles, and tech giants like Apple and Google are developing their own enhanced vehicles. These smart cars can communicate with other vehicles and devices, constantly sharing data and feedback for an improved driving experience. Meanwhile, car sharing services like Uber and Lyft are re-defining how people get around, and the surge in electric vehicles is shaking up how car owners fuel up.
Disrupt, adapt, survive
According to ABI, these six paradigms present a number of opportunities for auto industry players to "reinvent themselves," for example, gas stations will have to start offering charging stations to stay relevant. Dealerships and insurance companies will have to rethink their places in the industry, too, and it will be the most agile and innovative that survive.
"The final three stages cooperative mobility, electrification, and car sharing leading to driverless cars will be the most disruptive to the automotive industry," said Dominique Bonte, Managing Director and Vice President at ABI Research. "Not all car manufacturers will survive the changing landscape. And newcomers will also emerge, ones eager to create new, software-defined, high-tech cars."
With all these big changes already underway, what are the big auto makers doing to stay relevant? In a post for EVObsession, James Ayre wrote:
"One would think that with the shifting ground becoming more and more apparent, established auto-manufacturers would be putting more of an effort into staying ahead of the curve, but that largely doesn't appear to be the case. Though perhaps there's more going on behind closed doors than we are aware of?"
He has a point – auto manufacturers will have to boldly innovate to survive this smart, sustainable future. Some manufacturers are taking some steps toward the future, and it's likely others will follow suit. Last year, Ford announced its Smart Mobility Plan and 25 "global experiments designed to change the way the world moves." The company showed off its SYNC 3, a vehicle connectivity system and development plans for fully self-driving vehicles.