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A Glimpse into the Future of Automotive Technology Trends in 2020

automotive-2020Digital disruption in the mobility industry is transforming the landscape for traditional automotive developers and the tech companies that have joined the race in this sector. Learn more about the technology trends that are expected to shape 2020 in automotive product development!

In the past few years, experts and analysts have been talking about a disruptive change in the mobility industry. Innovation (both “homegrown” automotive technologies and those borrowed from other industries) has enabled revolutionary changes in the sector, while shifting customer behaviour and a tightening regulatory landscape in the auto industry have affected the direction its evolution takes.

Let’s take a look at the most important industry trends and pieces of tech innovation that impact the rapidly shifting mobility landscape!

Read our previous annual automotive reports:

The Road Ahead: 2019 Trends in Automotive Technology

An Outlook on Automotive Tech Trends in 2018

Automotive Industry Development Trends 2017

2016 Automotive Industry Trends and Challenges


Electrification still growing

First on the list of these fundamental changes is, of course, electrification. The proliferation of electric vehicles (EVs) certainly didn’t start in 2019, but it was the biggest year so far for cars with electric and hybrid drivetrains. EVs accounted for 2.2% of the global market this year, and automakers continue to further their commitments to move away from combustion engines. With climate change gaining momentum as the primary factor shaping regulators’ decisions around the world, the market is set to accelerate further towards electrification.

From a tech perspective, this means growing focus on (and investment in) innovating battery technologies and updating charging infrastructure in 2020.

Mobility-as-a-service on the rise

In the meantime, the way consumers approach mobility has also been changing for several years. Carmakers are reacting to declining car ownership rates and the emergence of shared & micromobility solutions. New auto startups are designing models with sharing in mind, while Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, launched its own car sharing service in Japan in 2019.

Like all other sectors, digital transformation has hugely affected the auto industry. The never-before seen importance (and complexity) of software solutions built into modern vehicles is just one result. Carmakers are now increasingly challenged by non-traditional players in the market. The digital capabilities of these technology companies put them at a comparative advantage. One way traditional players are engaging with these newcomers is through partnerships to help them deliver fundamentally new mobility solutions and business models – but good old-fashioned competition is, naturally, still an alternative.

Related reading:

New Alliances Shaping the Future of Self-driving Cars

Converging digital ecosystem

From a consumer’s perspective, one of the major effects of digital transformation in the automotive industry has been the convergence of the tech ecosystem surrounding the user. Overshadowing simple Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both already considered passé), connectivity capabilities embedded in modern cars will unlock new services in 2020 and going forward.

To mention just a few examples: the integration of emails and calendars with satellite navigation in vehicles provides obvious benefits. In-car delivery sounds a tad more futuristic but technologically-speaking, relatively straightforward: once your smart fridge has analyzed its contents at home, it can easily manage the ordering of missing items, with your car providing access (based on biometric identification) to the delivery person to the booth of the car parked outside your office building.

A reverse example of this would be car-to-home automation, another area of technology expected to grow rapidly. Through integrating across personal digital devices and elements of a smart home, your car can easily sync all systems to operate heating, lighting, garage door opening, and other aspects of your ride home for a comfortable, seamless experience.

Carmakers are also adding smartphone connectivity capabilities to enable users to remotely access certain features of their vehicles. Vehicle-to-everything connectivity is also key for OTA (over-the-air updates) and predictive maintenance, both key auto tech trends forecast for 2020 and onwards. Based on sensors collecting performance data and sharing that data over IoT, the servicing of modern cars can be rendered more efficient and convenient.

A connected supply chain offers various benefits for car manufacturers. Digitizing the manufacturing process helps align human and automated work (facilitated by robots & algorithms) more efficiently, promising increased productivity and less defects in the production process.

Digital safety features

While earlier promises of realizing full vehicle autonomy by 2020 seem to have been a little bold, carmakers are certainly making headway. Some ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) solutions have begun to trickle down to lower-tier models, and new technologies are being devised to ensure safety in the future of mobility as required by tightening regulations. Active health tracking and driver monitoring systems help bridge the transition period leading up to Level 5 autonomy. Smart ADAS takes over more and more of the actual driving for us, and systems that monitor user alertness ensure our safety until cars really become self-driving.

In the meantime, biometric identification provides a layer of security and opens up opportunities for further convenience services in modern cars.

In-car entertainment

For passengers (and, as vehicle autonomy expands, perhaps for drivers too), automakers are adding new technology-based entertainment and infotainment options. Virtual Reality seems to be making its way into future cars. Audi and Disney’s partnership promises technology that augments reality with cartoon characters and imaginary worlds for passengers in the back seat as soon as in 2020 or 2021.