Disruption has become a trope in most recent analysis about the automotive industry. But what companies are driving that changes, and how are they expected to transform the sector?
For years now, experts have either expected or reported disruptive change in the sector due to electrification, changing ownership patterns, ADAS and vehicle autonomy technologies, and other emerging trends in the market and in mobility technology.
The mammoth carmakers we all know are noticing the slow crumbling of their established markets. New entrants have forced them to move ahead, either innovating their way over this challenge on their own, or by partnering with nontraditional players that bring essential software and tech capabilities to the table.
Let’s see a few examples of disruptors in the auto industry and in what ways they are expected to turn the tide in carmaking!
Rivian is a relatively new player aiming to make transportation sustainable. Started in 2009, the company seeks to do that by developing electric vehicles that suit US consumer needs (SUVs and pickups with semi-autonomous capabilities) to prove that going electric doesn’t have to come with compromises.
Based on the data that Rivian has made available about their two trucks in development, their products are very exciting: 0-60 mph in 3 seconds, impressive off-road capabilities, and a range of 400+ miles – all this with zero emissions.
But it’s not the cars themselves that make Rivian a true disruptor in the auto industry.
The company’s vehicles are built on a homegrown “skateboard” chassis that combines battery, braking, suspension, and all other mechanical components with a low centre of gravity. Both Ford and Amazon announced plans to build their own vehicles on this flexible and modern platform. Rivian is looking to market this architecture, making components of it or the full chassis available for other carmakers, and capturing a larger market share in the process.
This French company specializes in the design and manufacturing of fully autonomous electric vehicles for shared use. Their dream of “fluid mobility” essentially translates to driverless ride sharing services – and their shuttles with 3D vision and LiDARs are already navigating open traffic.
Navya’s utmost goal is to further the sustainable transformation of mobility and what makes them a real disruptor is, quite simply, the working autonomous solutions they have delivered. Despite heavy R&D activity industry-wide, there still aren’t a lot of driverless mobility products that can actually take part in real-life traffic. A company with a proven autonomous shuttle solution has a shot at transforming short-distance transit in cities all over the world.
How could we talk about automotive disruption without mentioning Tesla? Granted, some don’t consider Tesla a true disruptor either because of the relative lack of novelty in its technological solutions or because its limited market share.
But nontraditional marketing & PR (under Elon Musk’s eccentric lead) has made Tesla a household name around the world, bringing with it a widespread awareness of electric mobility. Add to that the fact that Tesla is ranked as the 4th most valuable carmaker, with the company’s market value surpassing the combined value of GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and it’s easy to see why Tesla has earned a place on this list. (And that’s despite the wild fluctuation of the company’s market value that Musk’s tweets seem to bring about regularly.)
German engineering company Bosch has been a key supplier for the automotive industry for ages – yet with well-timed innovation, it could now become part of the disruption that the sector experiences. Like other traditional players, however, they are achieving this by partnering up with other companies (in this case, Benteler and Pininfarina).
Bosch’s rolling chassis can be considered Europe’s architectural answer to Rivian: it is a modular and scalable e-mobility platform that can accommodate various body configurations and powertrains. The ready-to-drive platform is fully integrated, and carmakers will be able to use it to build various types of electric vehicles (passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, or shuttles). As a pre-integrated solution, Bosch’s rolling chassis platform could help drive down the costs of e-vehicles, contributing to the disruption and driving a cleaner future in the mobility industry.
Curious about where the auto industry is headed?
Overall, it is no question that the auto industry is facing disruption. If established automotive companies can adapt, they can see this challenge as an opportunity – but if they miss the chance, they could be overcome by new players and powerful alliances that drive tectonic changes in the sector.