Mark Fields, Ford CEO, recently spoke on television about the future of transportation as it relates to advancements in technology and infrastructure. In particular, he mentioned autonomous vehicles and interconnected elements via the Internet of Things. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it revolves around the concept of everyday devices, vehicles, buildings and more being connected and exchanging data. It opens the door for “smart” roads talking to smart cars to relieve congestion and increase safety. How might these new technologies affect the auto manufacturing industry?
- More high-tech manufacturing – It would be a logical step for Ford or other automotive companies to begin manufacturing the needed technology for these cars in-house. In turn, auto companies could evolve into technology companies that can service the car from front to back.
- Custom everything – It might not be long before buying a car is more than choosing a model off the production floor, but choosing an entire range of amenities and features to make the car truly catered for a specific person or purpose. Manufacturing could accommodate that by producing a full range of car options and features for the consumer.
- Dedicated maintenance facilities – Specialized technologies for cars would call for specially trained technicians to maintain and repair these features. Auto companies could build entire facilities devoted to this practice, and you’d see a jump in specialized, private repair companies once the technology took off.
- A heavier focus on selling to cities – For the foreseeable future, the bulk of car sales will continue to be targeted to private citizens. However, it’s not unreasonable to assume that as autonomous vehicles take off in increasingly crowded and congested cities, more and more consumers will opt to not own a car. Industry experts predict cars being rented or used on a pay-per-use model similar to Car2Go. This could shift automakers’ major consumers from private citizens to city or state governments looking to supply their streets with safe, short-term transportation options.
- Reformatted logistics – Lean and mostly automated supply chains could change the way manufacturing logistics are handled. Smaller, autonomous trucks to transport goods could pair with smart roads that optimize travel routes and minimize down time. Smaller load sizes could reduce vehicle weights and fuel consumption, and lean manufacturing, such as on-site 3D printing, could reduce manufacturing time and product waste even further.
- Car energy systems evolve – A car that’s constantly connected to the world around it will call for stronger, more refined ways for it to consume energy. Battery production in electric cars, such as those being built by Tesla, could lead to widespread advancements in battery technology and the facilities that manufacture those components. Hybrid and fossil fuel-burning engines could go through regular revisions to become even more fuel-efficient in order to sustain the increased energy consumption.
We’re still several years away from fully autonomous, smart vehicles and roadways, but the technology is undoubtedly growing in practice and feasibility. What are some of the ways you think this technology will shape the way we view automobiles moving forward? Please share your comments with us below!
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