The auto industry has a track record of pushing innovation. It attracts engineering prowess and with it some of the best minds; cars are always eager to incorporate the latest technology, and are often a very obvious indicator of tech progression. Looking at it in inverse terms, however, you might wonder -- how is disruptive tech transforming the auto industry?
You might baulk at the idea of a mass-produced, fabricated part being one of the cogs inside of your vehicle, or that the end product is something less than attractive or powerful. You may then be surprised that a 700-horsepower 3D printed supercar has been developed and its parent company awash in investment.
3D printing has also been mooted as a long-term solution to breakdown costs; modular cars, built from easily reprinted 3D parts, providing a quicker and cheaper option for problems.
Currently finding a place in most news categories is the threat of autonomy. Forbes have estimated that 10 million self-driving cars will be on the roads by 2020, and several big companies have already taken up the concept into their day-to-day operations. The influence of self-driving technology is evident, with the Consumer Technology Association devoting a marketplace to automation.
That being said, there is still plenty of appetite for regular old vehicular travel, particularly in freight and leisure industries. Innovation is branching the other way in these sectors, with entrepreneur Bill Busbice touting the benefits of user-focused innovation in the trucking community.
The big blind spot in this article so far, as you’ve probably already noticed, is electric cars. Don’t worry, they haven’t been forgotten. Since Tesla finally made electric cars attractive, many other manufacturers have picked their game up with pairing eco-friendly innards with well-crafted exteriors. The Chevy Volt and BMW i3 are two examples of best-selling electric cars joining Tesla on the podiums.
The result is a huge increase in electric car sales. CleanTechnica report that, in the US, 86% more electric cars have been sold so far in 2017 versus last year, partly down to the increasing attractiveness of electric cars to everyday buyers -- in terms of design and affordability -- and partly down to a much increased focus on environmental awareness.
The automotive industry has long inspired new technology and encouraged innovation, and it seems the relationship is symbiotic. With the burst of new technology we’ve had over the past few years, and the eagerness of a rejuvenated auto industry, we’re sure to see some incredibly creative new vehicles.