Technological trends that will transform the automotive industry in 2021

The COVID-19 outbreak will prompt more automakers to change the status quo and automate processes as much as possible.

May 31, 2021 2:48 PM
Image for representational purposes only

Technology has twisted the very fabric of our society, giving birth to a brave new world where solutions to problems are a mere click away. In 2020, the adoption of technology – in the automotive industry and its ancillaries – became more vigorous owing to Covid-19. After all, those were the technological interventions that prevented the world from coming to a complete standstill.

So, it becomes critical to know how the influx of technology is going to transform the industry this year. Here are a few trends that have the highest likelihood of dominating the segment in 2021:

In-Car Sterilization

First things first, the COVID-19 outbreak has presented a unique situation in front of us. While vaccines have high efficacy and certain countries now permitting only vaccinated people to step outdoors without a mask, the true nature of the pandemic is largely, still unknown. The virus is rapidly mutating as healthcare experts are still trying to gauge that whether or not COVID-19 will be completely eradicated. In fact, the UN believes it might become seasonal.

Owing to these factors, we might see permanent changes in people’s behaviors and preferences, especially when it comes to car purchases. The automobile players will have to embrace the change by making in-car sterilization an integral part of the overall package. Some automakers and sterilization companies have already made progress on this front. In 2021, we might see more automakers joining the flock.

E-Commerce

More Indians now prefer e-commerce purchases and it’s easy to understand why. Not only can they avail a better bargain online but can also get the desired product delivered at their preferred time and date, at their desired destination. Overall, it makes the erstwhile cumbersome process more effective and flexible.

However, there has been a new entrant in the Indian e-commerce catalog. Now, one can even purchase cars online and get them delivered to your doorstep. This e-tail model marks the change in the paradigm from where dealerships were at the epicenter of all automobile transactions. They still have a role to play as the last-mile delivery operator and physical experience center. But this new e-commerce-based framework might transform everything from the customer experience to the purchase journey, forever. More emphasis will be given to the use of technology such as AI for lead generation, conversion, and sales optimization, in times to come.

Also, given the current situation, online orders might be the primary mode of car purchase in 2021.

Electric Vehicles

In India, certain EVs can already outperform their fossil-fuel-based counterparts. The year 2021 could bring more delight to the lives of Indian EV enthusiasts. The space has heated up considerably ever since international players have announced their foray into the Indian market. It might prompt EV automakers to hasten their product timelines while amplifying the R&D initiatives. We might see sizable advances in battery capacity, charging time, conducive infrastructure and vehicle range owing to the development.

What needs to be noted here is also the fact that one of the biggest limitations of an EV is its battery. The EV battery constitutes nearly one-fifth of the weight of the car. At the same time, it occupies a lot of space and leads to design-related limitations, wherein there are challenges such as less legroom. Here, Hydrogen-powered vehicles can make a world of difference. For the uninitiated, Hydrogen-powered vehicles are basically Electric Vehicles minus the gargantuan battery. They use Hydrogen as a fuel which combines with Oxygen to produce electricity for the motor and water as a byproduct.

In 2020, the MoRTH issued a notification to amend Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, and include safety evaluation of vehicles driven by hydrogen fuel cell technology. Nearly a year down the line, India is anticipating its first hydrogen-powered vehicle with import approval in place. The vehicle comes equipped with three hydrogen fuel tanks that extend the range of a whopping 1,000 KMs to its customers.

Hydrogen-powered vehicles might start a new chapter in India’s clean mobility drive and the automotive industry, at large.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Robotic Process Automation is nothing new for the automobile segment. It is heavily used in certain manufacturing processes including spray painting, brazing, and so forth. But the use of RPA in India is still limited as the majority of processes are led manually. The COVID-19 outbreak will prompt more automakers to change the status quo and automate processes as much as possible. It will enable them to ensure optimal operations even in dynamic situations, such as now. The development will further lead to the upskilling of the automotive workforce with the introduction of specialized job roles.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it goes without saying that the technological influx across industries – including the automotive industry – is only going to intensify hereafter. What remains to be seen is which trends will be the fleeting ones and which will become the apple of the eyes of automobile enthusiasts. Perhaps, time is the best judge.

Author: Gaurav Patra, Co-Founder of Value 360 Communications Private Limited

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not represent those of The Indian Express Group or its employees.

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