Disruptions in the automotive industry are pushing incumbents to reimagine their operations more than ever before. CASE trends are predicted to drive more transformation in the coming decade than what we’ve seen in the last century. This also has an explosive effect on product complexity, as engineering organizations are under immense pressure to continuously deliver software that satisfies customer demands and competes with tech startups shaking up the market.
The race for market share in the world of mobility is well underway. Tougher targets on greenhouse gas emissions are driving the rapid electrification of vehicles, while changing customer behaviors ramp up the demand for automated, shared, and connected driving solutions. Cars are becoming computers on wheels which form part of the highly integrated Internet of Things, creating a whole host of engineering challenges for automotive manufacturers looking to stay a step ahead in this tight race to market. Read on to learn more about key digitalization trends in the automotive industry and how they will impact engineering teams going forward.
What are CASE trends in the automotive industry?
The acronym CASE (also sometimes seen as ACES) refers to four technological innovation areas disrupting automotive manufacturing and forging the path for vehicles of the future. The trends are the following: Connectivity, Autonomous driving, Shared mobility, and Electrification. Let’s dive into these digitalization trends to explore how they affect the automotive engineering discipline later on!
Connected vehicles can communicate and exchange data with other vehicles, infrastructure, people, devices, and the cloud. This enables a ton of hyper-convenient features like:
- Contactless payments
- Remote parking
- Real-time traffic data
- Over-the-air updates
- Roadside assistance
And much, much more. Some examples of car connectivity include navigation app Waze’s contactless fuel payments at certain gas stations (so that you can pay directly through the app without ever getting out of the car) and paying for parking through Google Maps being enabled in over 400 US cities.
A recent report from EPM and SBD Automotive predicts that 96% of new vehicles in 2030 will be shipped globally with connectivity built-in.
Autonomous cars are packed with a ton of sensors (think cameras, GPS, radar, sonar, LiDAR, and more) that allow them to sense their environments. Next, advanced control systems use the data from the sensors to detect objects or obstacles, then plan and carry out appropriate navigation routes accordingly. This technology is enabled by artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep neural networks.
Autonomous driving technology is revolutionizing how we get ourselves from point A to point B. Looking to the future, it has the potential to completely transform commuting, high-risk driving, and complex traffic situations in built-up urban areas. On top of that, it can help make transport options more accessible for the young, elderly, and disabled people.
Having fewer but more efficient vehicles on the road also means the ability to repurpose unnecessary parking spaces, dramatically lower CO2 emissions, and reduce accidents as a whole.
The shared mobility market is estimated to reach USD 238.03 billion by as soon as 2026. Young drivers are increasingly moving away from private ownership models and opting for alternative, flexible mobility solutions instead. This is especially true in built-up urban areas where there is a lot of traffic, few parking spaces, and living costs are already high without factoring in the price of owning, insuring, and maintaining a car.
While shared mobility may not be convenient for other demographics, like families in more rural areas, there are a variety of shared mobility options apart from regular public transit which can prove useful for all sorts of people:
- Carsharing and ridesharing
- Bikes used for self-service rentals
- Electric scooters made available the same way
- Rides on demand (taxis, Uber, Lyft, etc)
These on-demand mobility solutions have a lower environmental impact than private car ownership while making mobility more affordable and accessible.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by electric motors that draw energy from storage batteries or overhead cables. EVs are predicted to make up 32% of total market share by 2030, largely due to their potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels. As government regulations regarding emissions increase, they are also incentivizing the uptake of electric vehicles with tax reduction programs.
That being said, although the EV market has grown significantly since 2019 due to the pandemic and supply chain shortages that crippled traditional OEM operations, some analysts are predicting the Tesla-induced boom is over. In reality, market penetration of electric vehicles continues to happen slowly due to the high cost of EVs and the lack of infrastructure to support them. For the time being, hybrids continue to be a popular alternative that proves more accessible to consumers.
Key success factors for automotive engineers going forward
While CASE trends provide endless possibilities for the vehicles of the future, they also create an enormous increase in product complexity for automotive manufacturers. The ever-increasing dependencies between sensors, software, mechanical and electronic systems require a huge amount of resources to make them all come together.
On top of that, due to heightened cybersecurity and safety concerns, industry regulations and functional safety standards are becoming more stringent. In other words, on top of having to create more code than ever, Original Equipment Manufacturers are also spending more time ensuring that their traceability and documentation processes are well-established in order to achieve compliance and bring products to market.
Traditional automotive engineering processes and operations have reached their natural limits. In order to efficiently create high-quality products at the speed the market demands, OEMs and engineering teams need to fundamentally reshape their approach to automotive development.
Here are some key success factors to take into consideration:
- Putting the customer in the driver’s seat
Car manufacturers used to differentiate themselves and their products with vehicle reliability and overall driving performance. Nowadays, the differentiator is quickly becoming the customer experience the brand provides.
In order to compete with tech start-ups and provide the ongoing relationship today’s customer expects, OEMs need to focus on customer-oriented, innovative digital solutions like smart vehicles, real-time customer service, contactless sales, and flexible ownership models.
In short, showing and selling a car is just one part of the customer journey; the new world of mobility provides endless opportunities to put the customer first and provide a stellar experience that keeps them coming back for more.
- A move to systems engineering
Traditionally, engineering organizations in the automotive industry were divided into functional areas. For example, some teams will be dedicated to the manufacturing domains developing things like the car’s chassis, while others focus on electronics or embedded software development.
As a result of this siloed working model, subsystems are developed separately and integrated later on. This way of working creates the opportunity for impacts and errors to be discovered too late (or not at all). With the number of dependencies rising due to increasing product complexity, it is beneficial to move towards a Systems Engineering approach instead.
Systems Engineering encourages an interdisciplinary approach which dissolves silos between teams and promotes the continuous collaboration of various development teams throughout the product life cycle. This also helps with establishing consistent and compliant traceability and documentation, as well as a customer-first mindset.
Learn more about Systems Engineering in this webinar series with NTT DATA:
- Fully virtual design environments
Nowadays, many organizations develop and prototype cars in fully virtual environments using tools like CAD, virtual reality, additive manufacturing, and other technological innovations. For example, digital twin technology enables engineers to create a realistic virtual version of the product to optimize it before it’s built.
Digital twins of cars are an exact representation of the vehicle, including all the mechanics, electronics, and software that goes along with it. Apart from testing overall performance, digital twins enable engineers to experiment with different compounds and materials, estimate manufacturing capacity, carry out predictive maintenance, and train employees who don’t have access to physical equipment yet.
Fully virtual design environments save a lot of time and money because so much testing can be carried out before the vehicle itself is built, because fewer prototypes are needed in the end, and because multiple teams can work on it at the same time instead of waiting on each other.
- State-of-the-art tooling
For the past couple of decades, traditional OEMs have been transitioning from paper-based development and documentation to completely digital systems. However, many engineering organizations are still using a variety of tools, some legacy and consumer-grade, to get the job done, which means that product information is still spread across platforms.
This makes it harder to promote both internal and external collaboration, as well as effective change management across the product lifecycle. Forward-thinking OEMs are looking to Integrated Lifecycle Management platforms for collaboration, traceability, security, and process management.
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