As vehicle autonomy becomes prevalent in the auto sector, I believe companies that equip their cars with the most robust self-driving solutions will dominate. Tech companies are entering the automotive industry, developing these solutions and manufacturing vehicles that are fitted with their innovative products. To adapt to the evolving market, traditional car original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must converge their manufacturing capabilities with rapid technological innovation in order to stay competitive and profitable in the long run.
Traditionally, car manufacturers take about two-and-a-half years to bring their vehicles from idea to production. Delving into this process, the first six months are spent building a business case and creating the concept. Then over the next year, product and manufacturing engineering will take place. Lastly, during the final 12 months before production, the assembly line is prepped for launch and mass production, and a concurrent marketing plan is developed for the vehicle model.
On the other hand, products in the tech sector require lower input costs and less time needed to engineer and mass-produce. Thus, they have a very fast time to mass production. With the auto industry experiencing a major evolution to vehicle autonomy, advanced technology is becoming an integral part of the sector, and IT companies are emerging as major competitors in the auto industry.
Tesla, for example, is a tech company at its core. Its main unique selling points are the advanced technological features it develops and implements into its vehicles; its cars are the “hardware” for its platforms to be executed upon. To keep up with its rapid rate of technology innovation, it has sped up its vehicles’ time-to-market considerably; it has shown it can bring a vehicle from concept to production in under two years.
With this convergence of technology and manufacturing, it’s bringing vehicles to the market at a much faster rate and with more advanced self-driving features than the cars its competitors produce (traditional car OEMs). This leads to having a distinct advantage in vehicle autonomy and subsequently positions it well to dominate the auto industry in the future as AVs take the road.
Conventional car companies must take the shift to autonomy into account if they want to maintain profitability in the future. They must adapt to be competitive in the long run. However, these companies are manufacturing companies at their core; they have limited internal development with regard to cutting-edge technological features, including self-driving solutions.
To compete with IT companies, the convergence of technology and manufacturing must happen within these firms. Basically, OEMs must prioritise rapid AV technological development to concur with their “speeding up” of production to ensure their vehicles are not lagging behind the level of innovation that the market demands.
Because these companies inherently do not specialise in developing self-driving technology themselves, they must source the best-in-breed AV solution to integrate into their cars – one that is capable of enabling full vehicle autonomy. This product must be purpose-built to process the plethora of visual data surrounding the car in real time while consuming minimal power.
As they integrate this platform into their vehicles, they must take into account the whole system, especially image and depth sensors. They must look for a solution that is capable of supporting all of this hardware to effectively process all of the incoming information. As these car OEMs source new AV technology, they will encounter many firms that “overpromise and underdeliver,” a common trend in the race to vehicle autonomy. To overcome this, auto manufacturers must thoroughly research not only the product but also the track record of the team building it.
Through this, these businesses can successfully implement a platform that will close the gap between them and technology companies. By converging technology with their manufacturing capabilities, their cars will have a rapid time-to-market while also keeping up with the innovative advancements of the auto industry, allowing them to be competitive in the long run.
By Ashwini Choudhary