Today, mobility is being driven by the underlying trends of the complementarity of means of transport used, digitalisation of the industry and emphasis on service, experience and collaboration over the respective traditional notions of transport and ownership.

Towards multimodal and digitalised mobility

The main issue is that of the city. By 2050, according to the UN, nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. This rapid urbanisation poses serious problems in terms of pollution, crowding and parking. The mobility industry must find a solution to these problems by adapting and adopting intelligent solutions to make urban mobility less pollutant, more fluid and more agile.

How can this be achieved? In the context of rapid urbanisation, the automobile industry is being forced to make unprecedented changes. In recent years, cars have played a central role in mobility. Solutions adopted in light of this modern-day crisis focus on the three main topics of electric vehicles, driverless vehicles and connectivity.

Areas of transformation to achieve smart mobility: electric vehicles, driverless vehicles and connectivity

Globally, forecasts are collectively predicting a rise in the number of electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads by 2030. Sales of diesel vehicles, already prohibited in some countries, have already started to rapidly decline. The industry is keeping its cards close to its chest when it comes to hydrogen vehicles, and a number of obstacles are making their development uncertain despite growing interest. All manufacturers are now aligning their “product plans” with this consensus.

The rise in electric vehicles, now integrated in all manufacturer “product plans”, remains reliant on major technology challenges. Firstly, manufacturers need to continue to develop “new generation” 48V dry batteries to reduce battery costs and increase battery autonomy whilst also cutting charging time. Having done this, they will then need to implement a lot more public and private charging points, and lastly, energy companies will need to review their offers.

The second area of transformation in this industry regards the widespread adoption of the driverless vehicle, which is scheduled by 2050. As driverless vehicles are all-electric – a necessity due to driving finesse and flexible use – their widespread use will help to reduce pollution levels in cities.

This shift to driverless cars will of course require major advances in technology, which will initially entail ensuring the extensive perception of vehicles using telecommunication with V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle), V2X (Vehicle to Everything) and 5G technologies. Environmental information must be collected reliably through the use of high-precision radar, camera and sonar type sensors. Once collected, the information will be handled to get the lay of the environment. This will be done using artificial intelligence due to its reliability, and with this objective in mind, manufacturers will need to develop increasingly advanced software applications.

The road environment also needs to be equipped. Some artificial intelligence sensors need to be removed from vehicles to be installed on connected and scalable infrastructures. This will lower the unit cost of vehicles and make their widespread adoption possible. Offering a high-performance, new-generation electronic and electrical architecture in terms of computing power and electronic chips, will be essential.

The third area of transformation in the industry concerns the key area of connectivity, which generates new revenues and massive savings. By 2035, new mobility technologies are expected to cut the industry’s costs by 40%. Manufacturers are calling upon external partners, including telecommunications and insurance companies, to offer their customers new services and to invent new value creation uses: commercial operation, road safety, driver assist systems, entertainment systems, navigation, diagnostics and maintenance. They also need to strengthen ties with high-tech players, specifically the GAFAs, new to the industry, to offer additional services from the improvement of the user experience through fluid interfaces to data security.

The major challenges of transformation

To succeed with this unprecedented transformation, automobile manufacturers and equipment manufacturers need to come up with solutions to the major challenges of this transformation process. Their success will depend on their ability to work with others,

forming closer bonds with other industry players to make the substantial investments required. The huge investment that goes hand in hand with this revolutionary transformation will mean that only the biggest will stay the course. And the race has already begun! An increasing number of strategic alliances have already been forged: Volkswagen and Ford, Renault and Fiat-Chrysler (still in the review phase). Equipment manufacturers are also joining forces. For example, Faurecia and Michelin are working together to pave the way for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

To become global players, manufacturers are no longer solely focusing on providing increasingly innovative vehicles; they are widening their efforts to include the broader urban mobility domain and encompassing the entire value chain, following in the footsteps of the recent alliance between BMW and Mercedes, with the aim of covering a comprehensive range of services from car sharing, to VTC, taxis, parking space rental, and scooter hire.

Moreover, to continue to innovate, the automobile industry needs to successfully integrate new technologies, which are reaching varying degrees of maturity within the manufacturing industry, with pilots and prototypes being successfully tested. These technologies include cybersecurity, cloud, big data, analytics, industrial internet, connected objects, robots, smart machines, artificial intelligence, blockchain, vertical and horizontal digital integration, digital twins, simulation, additive production, innovative processes and, lastly, augmented reality.

In the race to produce the driverless and connected car, these new technologies are pushing conventional automobile manufacturers and equipment manufacturers to move along the value chain by integrating software whilst setting up units specialising in these new technologies. Faurecia’s recent acquisition of Guardknox, a company specialising in cybersecurity for connected and driverless vehicles, is a good example of this technology transformation.

Increasingly stringent constraints

Industry players also need to deal with increasingly stringent constraints in a global market that is particularly unstable and competitive.

Regulations are also becoming increasingly stringent. Regulations play an important role in the automobile industry in terms of environment and safety, and environmental standards and standards pertaining to the certification of driverless vehicles have become more stringent as well as raising questions regarding the transfer of driver liability to the manufacturer. Industry players are therefore needing to make sustained efforts when it comes to engineering and innovation whilst legislation is being updated to offer a legal framework adapted to the development of the driverless car. This is reflected in the modification of the Vienna Agreement regarding the dropping of the obligation for drivers to remain in control of their vehicle at all times.

The automobile market is a mass market in which customers have a higher and higher expectation when it comes to buyer experience. Industry players compete fiercely to offer a diversified range of vehicles to provide an increasingly comprehensive mobility experience for customers in terms of the perceived quality of the services proposed, whilst managing costs and deadlines.

Rarely has an industry experienced such drastic change in such a short space of time. Being agile seems to be the key to success in this era of transformation.