For some time now, experts and analysts globally have been talking about the automotive industry approaching a tipping point of disruption. Undoubtedly, the industry is going through some of the most incredible changes in decades, and the pace at which such developments are taking place, we can rest assured the automobiles of the future would be far more safer, connected, cleaner, smarter, and sustainable compared to what we have today.
In a January 2016 report, McKinsey&Company argued that like many other industries, digitisation, increasing automation, and new business models will revolutionise the automotive industry as well. The report stated that these forces are giving rise to four disruptive technology-driven trends in the automotive sector – diverse mobility, autonomous driving, electrification, and connectivity. It is clear that these changes are a result of the changing customer needs. And customers, especially the younger ones, are indeed getting very demanding.
While this may have led to manufacturers and suppliers reorienting a lot of their strategies, we have also seen the rapid emergence of numerous start-ups targeting niche areas of the automotive value chain through new technologies or services in the areas of such as driver safety, battery storage, engine efficiency, cyber security, tyres, sensors, radars, telematics, etcetera. Faraday Future is one such American start-up technology company that is focused on the development of intelligent EVs. At the CES tech show at Las Vegas, the company unveiled FF91, a self-driving electric car that it claims can accelerate from zero to 97 km/h in 2.39 s.
Traditional manufacturers are aware of the fact that innovation from start-ups are slowly but surely making inroads into the auto industry, and in the process many of them have actually questioned the conventional. Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors in an article for the World Economic Forum wrote that her company, rather than fear disruption, plans to lead by developing cars that don't crash or pollute, that reduce congestion and that keep them connected to the people, places and activities.
There is a lot of excitement in the Indian start-up environment as well. Some phenomenal work is also being done by home-grown start-ups, especially in the areas of connected cars, electromobility and infotainment. Watch out for disruptions emerging out of our own backyard, very soon.
Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
New Delhi, February 2017