Two of the leading trends at CES Asia (and in the tech sphere at large) are automobile and the Internet of Things. At some point in the near future, these two areas will likely be integrated into one huge mobile platform; an upgrade which will undoubtedly transform the auto world. The industry currently focuses on individual driving experiences, while the future trend will shift to transportation services as part of the ‘smart city’ revolution.
There are currently over 23 million cars in China, the owners of which include every age and social group. As in almost every other sector, consumer behaviour and preferences are clearly divided by generations. For example, the virtual space is part of ‘real life’ for digital natives; a smartphone is not just the norm, it is an essential part of everyday life. It is reasonable to assume that this point of access will be the industry breakthrough for the new generation.
The traditional mind-set of the auto industry is to upgrade infrastructure, but the digital car era is more likely to be dominated by an online mind-set which favours collecting data, switching into information flow and then serving consumers.
There are three stages of car development:
The first stage relies on traditional data such as engine or capacity, the second stage on software and calculation capability, while the third stage is the Ecosystem of Things. We are still making our way to the second stage; a more secure and stable digital car depends on the integration of internal and external web. The internal web captures the driving data, while the external web captures the road information.
There exists a misconception among many in the car industry that digitalisation inherently means consumers will need to pay for a more expensive car. But the higher value doesn’t necessarily mean a more expensive vehicle. Consumers require a good experience, but additional cost isn’t always how that is achieved. Uber is the best modern example of how to better meet consumer needs while keeping the cost low by adopting a new business model.
The ‘digital car’ falls into two trends:
These are digitalised driving pits, and pilotless automobile. The digitalized driving pit is not only about data sharing, e.g. data acquired from cameras on the roads and cameras in the cars; it also a self-learning system. In the next five years, the major trend in pilotless will be to industrialise the technology, including continuous tests on order to ensure that the powerful calculation platform, both on the cloud and in the car, can support the pilotless automobile.
Individualisation and integration are the future:
The two key takeaways from CES Asia in this space are ‘individualisation’ and ‘integration’. The digital car sector needs a greater application of IT and a greater degree of cooperation and collaboration with IT firms if it is going to succeed. Think of it this way; there are several million lines of code on your average spacecraft. The pilotless automobile has over 100 million lines of code. It is only through deeper integration with digital technology that manufacturers will be able to reduce costs, improve efficiency and deliver the experience that customers expect.
Echoing the Audi keynote which opened the roadshow, the moderator on Tuesday’s digital car panel described the future of the automobile as “not only a vehicle, but more as a mobile ecosystem.”