At intive, we identify and analyze long-term global trends to better envision new services and state-of-the-art functionalities for automotive companies. We recognize that user empathy and research-based insights are pivotal when designing intelligent mobility experiences.
In this article, we will explore how the top megatrends from different spheres are influencing the automotive sector to meet the changing needs of consumers and build a sustainable and exciting mobility future. But first, let’s establish exactly what a megatrend is.
What Makes a Megatrend?
We can identify a megatrend through four main aspects: its duration, ubiquity, globality, and complexity.
Megatrends are long-term in nature, and this is what makes them valuable. Business models can be built around realistic predictions for years into the future, rather than fleeting trends that will go as quickly as they came. So, the key question we need to ask when evaluating a trend is “Is this really a long-lasting trend that could accompany us for decades?”.
Ubiquity and globality are also essential for a trend to become a megatrend. A megatrend is found everywhere and can be accessed from anywhere. Populations all around the globe are affected by it.
Finally, a megatrend is complex and consists of multiple layers. In fact, research institutes such as Zukunftsinstitut have made megatrends maps that show how trends and major trends intersect and interact with each other.
Let´s explore five megatrends that are influencing the automotive industry and enhancing the user experience.
Trend #1: Connectivity
Connectivity is a prolific megatrend that is now deeply embedded in the automotive sector. It encompasses the increasing interconnection of people with all devices and systems, leading to seamless communication and data exchange.
Thanks to connectivity, many new cars are now also complex IoT devices. This opens up new possibilities for connected car platforms, enhanced customer experiences, and mobile apps for vehicle control and monitoring. For instance, an electric vehicle (EV) can now communicate with a charging station, check its availability, book a spot, and pay for the charging service.
When exploring connectivity, we can’t overlook in-car infotainment systems and services. Cars are increasingly resembling entertainment platforms, with passengers consuming streaming apps while on the go. Additionally, hands-free communication enables users to make calls and send texts without the need for manual operation, promoting a safer and more convenient experience.
Trend #2: Urbanization
This trend refers to the increasing number of people living in cities and the rapid growth of urban areas, which drives the need for smart city solutions and innovative transportation systems. With growing numbers of people demanding accessible mobility services, we’re seeing the creation of innovative solutions, such as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platforms, ridesharing and carpooling apps, as well as parking management and navigation systems.
Tech solutions can generate cost-effective modes of travel that decrease the cost of living in cities. MaaS platforms combine different transportation options, encouraging users to share services and goods with other people without the need of owning a private car. In addition, cities are growing and becoming more crowded, making parking a tedious task. Smart management systems that help drivers find a parking spot, alongside autonomous parking capabilities in cars, are here to make navigating busy cities a smoother ride.
By encouraging the optimization of car usage, these services help to reduce congestion in cities and reduce mobility’s carbon footprint, paving the way for our next megatrend.
Trend #3: Sustainability
One of the biggest global megatrends with a huge impact in the automotive space is sustainability, which refers to the ongoing shift towards eco-friendly practices and solutions that minimize environmental impact and promote long-term economic and social well-being. Both consumers and companies are becoming more conscious of their planetary impact.
When taking a close look at the step toward sustainability in the automotive industry, several solutions stand out for their innovative edge. For example, there are now apps that provide real-time information on the location and availability of EV charging stations. In addition, with the advent of carbon footprint tracking and reduction tools, which calculate the environmental impact of a journey, data and analytics became central to optimizing the use of resources.
Trend #4: Artificial Intelligence and Automation
The artificial intelligence (AI) and automation cat is now well out of the bag, and it’s no secret that these technologies are rapidly enhancing products and services across industries. The development of intelligent systems that can learn, adapt, and perform tasks with minimal human intervention is having an extraordinary impact in the automotive field.
We are already witnessing autonomous vehicles with advanced safety features. Leveraging sensors both inside and on the vehicle, AI driver-assistance systems play a crucial role in maintaining lane and distance, intelligent braking, dynamic speed regulation, traffic sign recognition, and traffic flow/obstacle detection. These technologies are not only facilitating predictive maintenance and vehicle health monitoring but also paving the way for intelligent route planning.
Take a well-known example that most of us use – Google Maps. The navigation platform provides accurate estimations for journey time thanks to real-time information on traffic jams. This traffic information feature wasn’t available 10 years ago in the earliest in-car navigation systems, yet is now fundamental to why users choose to use the application.
Trend #5: Customization & Personalization
Today, consumers demand tailored products, services, and experiences that cater to individual needs and preferences. Users prefer personalized content and are increasingly seeking to create their own unique space in the digital realm.
In the automotive world, we can already find solutions influenced by this megatrend, such as personalized in-car experiences, customizable vehicle features, and data-driven customer insights for targeted marketing and sales.
Perhaps the most popular personalization feature is the possibility of selecting the color of the car, the color of the seat, and the seating material. However, personalization goes far beyond these choices. AI and data technologies play a big role in automating customer data, processing, and creating customized experiences. When seeing the car as a mobile device, every user brings their own personal profile to the car. In the future, every vehicle will become a personalized space, with stored settings for seats, mirrors, and streaming services. Even interfaces and displays will be customizable.
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Embracing Megatrends From Diverse Fields
There are many other automotive megatrends to analyze and explore in depth. For instance, the growing importance placed on physical health has driven many automakers to consider how their cars can contribute to this. And the "New Work" concept, which integrates digitization, flexibility and remoteness, made automotive companies focus on developing remote vehicle diagnostics & maintenance services.
Megatrends from areas that are not traditionally related to the automotive business can trigger promising opportunities for new and game-changing products and services in the automotive industry. Therefore, it´s pivotal to follow them closely, analyze how they can affect the market, and leverage Proof of Concepts to evaluate the feasibility, potential, and practicality of these new ideas.
Interested in hearing about how intive can support automakers in staying ahead of the innovation curve? Speak to one of our experts.