Consumers’ connectivity demands are changing at an unprecedented rate. The automotive industry is adjusting to this change by utilizing more technology innovations that enhance the driving experience for all its customers than ever before. From advance user-interfaces and electric cars to autonomous vehicles, automakers are at the cutting edge of disruptive transformation.


HARMAN predicts the following top five Automotive Industry trends for 2017. 


1. Continued Movement Towards Full Autonomy


Autonomous driving is coming soon, but as we all know - automakers are not quite ready yet.  There are many technological and regulatory issues that need to be resolved before a fully autonomous vehicle is available in dealer showrooms. Meanwhile, automakers will continue to release cars with semi-autonomous features. In addition to the existing features such as smart navigation systems, parking and traffic assist, collision assist, etc., automotive companies are increasing appeal by offering services that can deliver more personalized experiences to the driver.


HARMAN’s end-to-end system was debuted in the newest Rinspeed concept car, Oasis, at CES 2017. Leveraging the HARMAN LIVS suite of technologies (Life-Enhancing Intelligent Vehicle Solution), the Oasis offers a glimpse at the future of autonomous driving and how advanced, holistic vehicle intelligence will transform the driving experience. Recognizing the many user modes enabled through autonomous vehicles – from work and play, to car sharing and social connectivity – HARMAN engineers have partnered across the industry to enable an intelligent, adaptable and personal suite of solutions in this concept car.


Oasis is a testament to the vision of building a vehicle that is contextual, personalized and highly connected. HARMAN believes autonomy should not equal monotony, and this vehicle offers an integrated cockpit and bleeding edge user interface that advances mobility and connectivity while providing an unparalleled user experience. This results in a driving experience that is more powerful, productive, personalized and protected than ever before.


Recently, Ford launched its Fusion hybrid autonomous vehicle at CES 2017 which will be used for its Ford’s test fleet. BMW also debuted its HoloActive Touch system and showcased the prototype that demonstrates their vision of the autonomous vehicle of the future.  


2. Increasing use of Electric Vehicles


Lower battery costs and an environmental friendly, widely available charging infrastructure will lead to growing consumer acceptance of the electric car. Thus, automakers will increase their investment in electric vehicles.  As electric vehicles become more and more competitive to gas-powered vehicle, market share is bound to increase.  


Industry leader Mercedes-Benz unveiled plans to launch an all-electric SUV and a Vision Van with many high-tech features. Hyundai showcased an autonomous prototype of an electric vehicle which looks very similar to other cars in its fleet. Honda also announced a self-driving electric two-seater car which can also be used for ride-sharing.


3. The Automotive Cloud will continue to change the rules of the game


As customers are accustomed to updating their smart phones over the cloud, they are looking for a similar experience in their vehicle. The coming year looks promising where more and more vehicles are expected to come with a dashboard system that is easily updated and customized by drivers. 


With Aha Radio by HARMAN, automakers can offer the best internet-based audio source in their vehicles. A user of Aha Radio 2.0 can listen to the latest episode of a favorite podcast without having to sync his/her smart phone, have tweets read to him/her while driving, or tune in to a favorite radio stream and much more. With all her favorites organized as presets in the same list, the driver can access content effortlessly. Aha Radio is seamlessly integrated with the rest of the vehicle services offered in the vehicle infotainment center.


With solutions like Portable Personalization from HARMAN Ignite, drivers can create an account and save information including options for setting the temperature, seat and mirror positioning, favorite radio presets, infotainment applications and other more personal items. This service syncs all the driver’s personal settings to the cloud, thus enabling he/she to ‘log in’ to a car and transfer all settings before driving begins. All that is needed is a mobile application and login credentials to maintain the account.


HARMAN Remote Vehicle Updating Service (OTA) enables car manufacturers and Tier-1 suppliers to adapt to an evolving market landscape by securely managing all in-vehicle software components, including firmware, applications, configurations, settings and maps on head units, TCUs (Telematics Control Units) and ECUs (Electronic Control Units); anywhere and at any time – whether on the production line, at dealer lots or in an owners’ driveway. The solution helps in reducing software recall- and warranty-related costs via Over-the-Air (OTA) updates.


Automakers are embracing such solutions to provide convenience and personalization to the customer, and also to avoid potentially costly ROM upgrades or BOM (Bill of Materials) expansions.


4. The rise of sharing economy


A new wave of peer-to-peer, access driven business is shaking up established categories and conventional offerings across the world. Be it renting homes, borrowing goods, renting/leasing cars or serving up micro-skills in exchange for money or access, consumers are demonstrating a growing appetite for the sharing-based economy. Trust, security, convenience and a sense of community are all factors increasing the adoption rate of the sharing economy. 


Zipcar, RelayRides, Car2Go, Lyft, Uber. The sharing economy is quickly paving new roads in the automotive industry, establishing a web of transportation options. An executive can get so much done and be more productive during the travel rather than spending the same time behind the wheel. All of this has made sharing systems such as car-sharing, ride-sharing or bike-sharing far more appealing. Even though fuel prices may be decreasing, the trend away from car ownership is not likely to change considerably. 


More and more automotive OEMs today are rethinking their positioning—presenting themselves as providers of mobility, not merely manufacturers of vehicles. But as automotive expands into mobility, new players are surfacing as competitors: for instance, Apple, one of the mobility leaders, enters the category. In this context, Automotive OEMs must find ways to add unique value to consumers’ mobility day in and day out—perhaps becoming a purveyor of mobility at large, from selling cars for purchase to facilitating ride-sharing, or even partnering with public transportation in cities where the resources are underutilized or have no proper transportation facilities at all. 


HARMAN Car-as-a-Service (CaaS) solution is pre-packaged to enable an OEM or Service Provider to deploy and manage car sharing/ride sharing solutions leveraging the scalable HARMAN Ignite platform, integrated client (mobile application & embedded) and management portal/dashboard including managed service if desired. The platform is cloud-agnostic and can be deployed using AWS, Microsoft Azure or on premise. The solution includes a collection of components and SaaS services, which allow companies to introduce and quickly deploy custom functionality and services.


5. Creating New Sources of Revenue:


Like Mobility solutions, there are lot of other avenues which auto makers could capitalize on. With all the connectivity and technology in the vehicle, vast amount of data is generated which can further help in building data-driven business offering Data-as-a-Service or recommendations based on the analysis of the data. This will not only create new revenue streams for Automotive OEMs but also encourage new players to enter the automotive market with new innovative services. Today, more than building a car, it’s creating a relationship between owners and their cars. The Auto industry is getting agile and adaptive towards the disruptively changing technology in the market to meet their customer demands. These revolutions in the auto industry will provide new direction, processes and capabilities for the manufacturers and suppliers. 


Click here to learn more about what HARMAN is doing to support these new emerging trends through HARMAN Ignite.