Five Automotive Industry Trends You Need To Be Aware Of

This year, our skies won’t be covered with flying cars like a scene from Back to the Future. And more’s the pity – we still have a long way to go before such an idea can become reality. Automotive technology is now leaps and bounds ahead of the first conceptualised models seen in the late 19th century. The same goes for vast production lines of the 50s and 60s with the rise of giant mass production manufacturers.

Modern manufacturers such as Tesla, Toyota, Hyundai and Volvo are spearheading a new wave of car models that are redefining the concepts of innovative and eco-friendly car making, leading other manufacturers to follow suit in their pursuit for the new and cutting edge.

Coupling the advancement in technology with the change in consumers’ attitudes towards traditional non-renewable fuel powered vehicles, we can now make an educated speculation on the future direction of the automotive industry. This article, therefore, highlights five exciting trends to be aware of this year:

1. She’s Electric: The rise of electric powered vehicles

It’s no surprise that a rise in electric vehicles makes the top of the list. With the global crisis of dwindling non-renewable energy, only a handful of mass production manufacturers are fully reaping the benefits of leadership in the electric car industry. For the first time ever, global electric car sales surpassed the 2 million mark in 2016, a 60% increase from 2015. Many industry professionals and analysts are predicting electric cars soon to be more popular and cost-effective than petrol and diesel.

More manufacturers such as Daimler AG, VW and General Motors have begun entering this lucrative market with their own models. This has increased electric car market share year-on-year mostly throughout Europe, especially in Norway who are officially the global leaders in electric car consumption with over a third of the total market share in the country.

This year, expect another rise in electric car sales with more models going into mass production, increasing the current UK market share of 4.4%.

Volvo has recently announced that by 2019, all of the engines they produce will have an electric motor. By fully embracing the electrification of vehicles, Volvo has made a significant move by not only highlighting how far automotive manufacturing has advanced but also how they plan to lead the way into a new era of the automotive industry

This move from traditional petrol and diesel-fuelled cars will not be limited to cars only. Tesla has announced their plan to unveil the first in their planned fleet of self-driving electric trucks which will travel in “platoons”. There is still some distance to cover before we start seeing them on our motorways, but this gives you an idea about the direction the industry is heading.

2. Baby, You Can Drive My Car: More car sharing

As automotive technology has advanced over the past decade, we’ve seen safer and cleaner vehicles come into the market. It seems, however, that the more automotive technology develops, the less likely consumers are to grow an emotional attachment to their vehicles. McKinsey forecasts that by 2030, 1 out of every 10 cars sold globally will be a shared vehicle. The aforementioned report suggests how the signs are already apparent, and how the trend is set to accelerate in the coming years.

In 2018 cab hailing services such as market leader Uber, and other fast-growing startups will continue to enable customers to easily hail a shared vehicle for their individual purpose. We can already see Addison Lee offering a variety of different services including coach hire, same day couriers, and transport for event planners.

Customisability of car-sharing services is expected to increase next year, some Uber drivers currently allow passengers to use an auxiliary cable for music, whilst others are even offering snacks and drinks to enhance the passenger’s experience.

3. A Design for Life: The emergence of 3D printing for automobiles

In the search for something truly unique, some people have turned towards the growing phenomenon that is 3D printing. The early 2000s saw 3D printing receive mass media visibility when the first working kidney was printed. Fast forward a decade and we’ve seen everything from prosthetic limbs, statues, and even a 3D food printer (that’s right!).

Today we are already seeing 3D printing appear in previously untapped industries such as car production. Kor Ecologic were the first pioneers when they developed a prototype for the world’s first 3D printed car, the Urbee. This barrier was broken in 2015 by Local Motors when they launched the Strati which was the world’s first 3D printed car. These small teams of engineers have used 3D printing to challenge the norm, set by giant manufacturers, in a cost-effective way. We are already seeing developments into hybrid cars that feature 3D printed aluminium joints like the 700 horsepower Blade prototype.

2018 could see more development and investment from larger manufacturers into this industry due to the safety benefits it provides, but also the cost-effective nature of 3D printing cars.

4. Place Your Hands: Advancement of autonomous vehicle capabilities

Spoiler alert: mass-produced fully autonomous cars will not be available to buy in the near future. Nobody knows exactly when this will happen, with regulation remaining unclear and full testing still in the infancy stages. But one thing is for sure, 2018 will see big moves by some leading global companies to accelerate their R&D and testing.

We can already see semi-autonomous capabilities in the latest models of some cars, the biggest advancement being made in driver-assisted technologies. Most high-end vehicles come with features that are making steps towards a driverless, hands-free future. They now have auto breaking sensors, motorway lane sensors, blind spot checkers, front & back facing cameras, adaptive cruise control and autonomous self-parking.

2016 saw Google reveal their prototype self-driving pod Waymo, this concept was taken further by Local Motors who also launched their fully autonomous Olli in the same year. American giants, Ford, also revealed a self-driving vehicle at CES that they intend to be on the roads by 2021.

As you can see, these technological advancements are being made by multi-industry companies both large and small, and this trend is set to accelerate in 2018

5. Supermassive Black Hole: Continued interest in big data in vehicles

Today’s most up-to-date automobiles are starting to have a lot in common with our smartphones. From touchscreen displays to integrated entertainment apps and cameras – although we can’t take car selfies yet.

With all media hype and speculation covering electric cars and autonomous technologies, perhaps the world is overlooking the potential of one of the most profitable aspects of car manufacturing – car big data monetisation. McKinsey have estimated that the figure could reach $750 billion by 2030. As part of the Internet of Things (IoT), cars are now increasingly built with internet connections, which provide carmakers with the ability to attain information about drivers. However, the regulation is still unclear on monetising this captured data to third-party companies, especially considering GDPR regulation rollout in 2018.

Toyota, Ford and other manufacturers have teamed up and launched an open platform infotainment system which connects all mobile phone operating systems. 2018 will see more cars rolling out with these ubiquitous, interconnected features that can now allow app developers to adapt their offerings to cross-platform users on mobile, tablet, web, and now the car. It won’t be long until we see the introduction of in-car voice control and AI, an idea that is currently being explored by Ford using the Amazon Echo.


With the above trends taking place this year and beyond, the recruitment industry is faced with opportunities and challenges which businesses must overcome. A 2017 report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) stated how the UK automotive industry employed over 814,000 people and produced over 1,816,622 vehicles. In April alone this year, over 170,691 cars were made in the UK – a new 17 year high. The success of the UK automotive industry, however, could potentially be undermined by the increasing shortage of skilled automotive workers, leaving 5,000 jobs vacant.

There is currently an influx of new production lines dedicated to electric and autonomous vehicles. The call-to-action for the recruitment industry is to meet the demand for the new wave of automotive engineers and workers, as well as their more advanced skill sets, as opposed to the traditional skills. In 2016, Jaguar Land Rover announced their plans to create 10,000 new jobs by doubling their production output in preparation.

As you can see, 2018 is already looking pretty exciting and all of us at Steele-Dixon cannot wait to see how far all these trends will develop. To discuss how your organisation can prepare for and proof itself against the future, please do contact me on the details below for a confidential discussion:

[email protected]

+44 (0)1235 536440

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