Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Jetsons: A Modern Reality?

When it comes to changing trends and technologies in society, we are often faced with this question of what the future holds. This is certainly the case for the automotive industry, as many people tend to fantasize or poke fun at how we are getting closer to entering the reality of the 1960s television show, The Jetsons. This animated series alluded to the idea that the future of mobility would entail flying vehicles and human-like robots. Although we are not quite at the point of levitating vehicles, the automotive industry has proven decade after decade that it is indeed a continuously innovating sector in the market.

With the exception of other automotive companies that have previously released hybrids, the Toyota Prius made headlines in 2000 as the first four-door hybrid sedan in the United States. This was a significant moment in the automotive industry as it created a major conversation among consumers and of course within the industry itself as to how prevalent these sustainable vehicles would become. As a result, the introduction of hybrid vehicles shed light on the alternative sources of power for operating a vehicle. Now, seventeen years later, companies such as Tesla have continued on this trend set by Toyota with the emergence of their fully integrated electric vehicles.

As the US market continues to prevail through the transforming evolution of automotive technologies, it is appropriate to reflect on what the future of driving may hold at last. Scott Corwin, a managing director with Deloitte Consulting LLP, has great insight on this transformation, as he leads the Future of Mobility initiative. In his in-depth article, The Future of Mobility: How transportation technology and social trends are creating a new business ecosystem, Corwin highlights five converging forces of automotive transportation and mobility.

These converging forces include; maturing powertrain technologies, lightweight materials, rapid advances in connected vehicles, shifts in mobility preferences, and the emergence of autonomous vehicles.

Maturing Powertrain Technologies. The emergence of battery operated vehicles will tremendously help to lower emissions by eliminating the use of gas, while offering higher energy efficiency. It’s important to note that the consumer will generally have a high value on the vehicle’s energy efficiency above many other factors.

Lightweight Materials. Advances in chemistry and physics, have proven the ability to eliminate a significant amount of weight for vehicles. For example, Corwin pointed out that the Ford F-150 truck eliminated six hundred pounds by using aluminum rather than steel, while still ensuring safety for drivers.

Rapid Advances in Connected Vehicles. With a plethora of cars on the roads nowadays, safety for drivers is a main concern, especially during extreme weather conditions. Fortunately, the advances in connectivity among vehicles help detect other cars, as well as infrastructure. These are known as vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V).

Shifts in Mobility Preferences. The rise of smartphone applications, such as Lyft and Uber have changed the mobility preferences among Millennials. As a result, this generation doesn’t value owning vehicles, as they have acquired a pay-per-use mentality. For example, “nearly 50% of Gen Y consumers like using a smartphone app for transport.”

Emergence of Autonomous Vehicles. What once seemed to be a technology of the future, self-driving vehicles have now become a reality. Although they are not exactly on a mass-scale production, there are areas where this technology has tremendously improved the driving experience. Generally one of the most significant challenges for drivers is  parallel parking. For example, the BMW i3 has a parking assist option where the car will autonomously park on its own. However, for fully autonomous vehicles, Corwin explained how long-haul trucks could help send and receive products faster by eliminating the driver. This is the result of cutting out mandatory rest stops, thus making the delivery or pickup more time efficient.

NOTE: Rotor Clip will soon be launching Clip Chat, a podcast series that will cover the changing landscape of the manufacturing industry, hosted by Co-owner Craig Slass. Our podcast premier will cover the future of mobility, as discussed above. Check out our Facebook and Twitter page for more details.

 Evan Slass is a Digital Marketing Communications Specialist for Rotor Clip Company.

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