Five Fears Fueling Auto Innovation

“We know that 10 years from now this industry will be totally different: we’ll have some of the same competitors, and we’ll have a number of totally new competitors. If we continue to do what we did so well, we’ll be toast.”   

Dieter Zetsche CEO, Diamler. 27th February 2019.

The rapid innovation and change in the automotive industry means we are mostly driving blind into the future. We know that today we are roughly at level 2 in the development of autonomous vehicles (where the driver is still largely in control, being guided and advised) but in the future we will be at level 5 (where we are all passengers).

But no one knows when. No one.

Using the wide spread of data available in PatSnap Discovery, the PatSnap automotive team have uncovered the five unusual fears that are at the very top of the auto industry’s concerns.

Fear of Style and Status.

The industry has committed itself to an autonomous, electric future where even car ownership will be replaced by car sharing in the form of a mobility service. The fear is that customer preference might not be ready or willing for this. With so much vehicle ownership being caught up with emotional issues like status and style how does the industry compensate for the loss of the high-status badge on the front, or the message that the prestige car on the drive sends to neighbours? In one report 58% of people believed that AV’s will ruin the sheer enjoyment of driving. Indeed, are customers ready to give up car ownership in exchange for mobility service?

 Fear of Safety.

With 95% of road traffic collisions caused by human error and road deaths accounting for 8% of all deaths, will an autonomous future be a safer one? The media delights in reporting even the slightest collision involving autonomous vehicles, but it never reports that tens of thousands of successful test drives that are achieved. Autonomous driving will clearly be safer than trusting in the competence of other drivers, but the perception of autonomous vehicles being unsafe will be hard to shift with every minor collision being widely reported. And in that environment, how does the auto industry convince drivers to be ready and willing to hand the steering wheel to A.I?

 Fear of Strangers. (New Entrants)

Much of the innovation is being driven by businesses not normally associated in the automotive space. It is not too farfetched to imagine a Dyson, Amazon or Apple car, but these threats to the traditional business are a clear and present danger. Fear of unknown disruptors, those businesses not usually associated in the auto space are the real threat. And it is the fear of not knowing who or what else is happening in areas outside of auto that is a potential blind spot. And the usual reference points will not necessarily help us.

 Fear of Solo Strategies.

The big players in the industry are banding together. This is not some sort of group hug driven by mutual love and respect, but through a fear of not having strength in numbers and protectionism from the disruptors. We now see BMW and Diamler, traditionally fierce rivals, cooperating and working together. But how do we predict who will get hitched next? And how do we know which partnerships will be a success? How do we know that these new alliances can be trusted? What might the future bring to anyone attempting to go solo?

 The Fear of Being Boring.

 New vehicle designs have traditionally been a source of excitement as entirely new or even revised designs are unveiled. But over the last two decades, overall body shape designs have been converging into what some reviewers have damned as Euro Car. With manufacturers changing their mindset from car makers into mobility companies, will there be space for great looking, individual designs of AV’s, or will we see endless processions of dull people movers?

 A report about an auto innovation is interesting. A report combined with  patent applications suggests commitment to the idea. When the report, plus the patent applications, and significant investment can be identified, this provides a fascinating and reliable insight into what is going to happen. PatSnap Discovery does this faster and more efficiently than any other method available to the auto industry.

 In May 2018, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said he was resolved in embarking on “battles in a world of unknowns”. He has “decided to "redesign" Toyota from a car-making company into a mobility company.” This shift is a “once-in-a-century era of profound transformation”. He described “the rules of competition as well as our rivals changing”

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