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New trends loom on auto horizon, says study

Posted: 16 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:automotive industry? electric vehicles? hybrid? vehicle connectivity? auto manufacturing?

A study conducted by consultancy firm Roland Berger predicts that over the next 15 years, the global automotive industry will be reduced to almost nothing. It also foresees the rapid growth in market share of electric and hybrid vehicles, and connectivity's pivotal role in the automotive arena. Its most alarming forecast, however, is the rise of Asia as the new center of gravity for the entire automotive industry.

The Roland Berger study, "Automotive Landscape 2025," forecasts several changes in the automotive industryincluding changes in the related electronics business. The study, which involved almost all of Roland Berger's 39 offices around the globe, identifies a number of technological and business trends.

Perhaps the two most relevant for automotive industry are the increasing market share of electric, and even more pronounced, hybrid cars. According to the study, electric vehicles will account for about 10 percent of new vehicles, well above current European estimates. The German government, for example, targets a share of e-cars of only 1 percent. Even though this target will be reached already in 2020, in a global scale, electric vehicles apparently will gain acceptance much faster than in Germany. Hybrid vehicles will gain share even faster; the study predicts that in 2025 their share will touch the 40 percent mark.

Another key trend in automotive technology is vehicle connectivity. This is not a new insight, though. The study falls short of providing figures, but details the motivation for the shift to the always-on car. "What younger generations will be looking for in a car is a seamless integration with other means of mobility and a hassle-free connectivity with their mobile devices," explains Roland Berger automotive researcher Grosse Kleinmann. As a result of this trend, the automotive industry is expected to converge with other industries such as CE and telecommunications.

The preferences among the younger generation will also trigger another shiftfrom large, full-sized vehicles to small, cheap ones. The reason: cars will lose their importance as a status symbol. Thus, large vehicles with luxury (electronic) equipment will become less frequent while small cars will feature a more or less complete infotainment and connectivity section with features such as personalized HMI.

The study also predicts a "dramatic" shift to the Asian markets for both production and sales. This trend will endanger some 300,000 jobs in Europe. The reason is that in emerging countries the demand for cars will grow much faster than in Europe and North America. In this context, the study predicts a growth rate of less than 1 percent in the old economiesin contrast to the 36 percent annual growth in Chinawith the consequence of radically shifting design and production capacities to this geographical region.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
??EE Times

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