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3 Trends in Tech that will shape the Auto Industry in 2018

Given how fast technology is changing the world, it can be hard to stay on top of what is shaping the future.

To help, we’re focusing on 3 key trends that we believe will shape 2018 for the auto industry, showing what these technologies mean and how they will impact motoring.


Blockchain

You’ve likely heard the word, but there’s no embarrassment in not fully understanding what it means. Blockchain is a complex beast but, put simply, it is the encrypted ledger technology that powers bitcoin and it is being increasingly used as a secure way to record anything - events or transactions - that need recording. Companies and individuals are using blockchain to validate identities, store files, even vote in elections. This is a great primer on the subject.

Blockchain will affect every industry on earth, and the auto industry is no exception. How this revolutionary technology is fully adopted remains to be seen, but integration is underway, making complex, bloated parts of the auto industry more efficient. These efficiencies will save time and money for all involved in the industry.

An early adopter is Toyota who, in this interview, states how they are using blockchain to develop driverless cars: “Blockchains ... enable pooling data from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers to shorten the time for reaching this goal, thereby bringing forward the safety, efficiency and convenience benefits of autonomous driving technology.”

Initially, Toyota will use the technology to store customers’ ride data so that they can develop a deeper understanding of autonomous vehicles. But they are also using the data to build products with improved ride sharing capabilities, as well as insurance policies that suit customers who prefer a usage-based form of coverage.

And that’s just the beginning. It’s predicted that blockchain will revolutionise other areas of the auto industry, too, including:

  • Supply-side finance - Creating quicker, more transparent transactions for car makers.  
  • Driver-side finance - Allowing drivers higher security and quicker transactions.
  • Enhanced vehicle experience -  Meaning that driver preferences can be stored by a manufacturer and transferred from car to car as the driver upgrades vehicle over time.
  • Enhanced post-purchase service - Centrally stored vehicle histories will lead to greater transparency when servicing vehicles. A central ledger of spare parts can also provide clarity around maintenance.

The list goes on. The uses of blockchain technology in the auto industry are seemingly endless and their adoption is not far off.

Shieldpay predicts… Some say blockchain is a fad. But we believe it’s here to stay and its implications know no bounds. Watch out for when it impacts your auto experience. It’s going to be sooner than you think.

 

3D Printing

Like blockchain, it’s hard to forecast an industry that won’t be affected by 3D printing. This revolutionary technology has been long in development, but it is beginning to break into the mainstream and the auto industry is adopting it, especially in manufacturing.

As a recap, 3D printing creates three-dimensional objects by layering micro-layers of material, one on top of the other, until the full object is built. This is in contrast to traditional manufacturing, that typically carves an object from a block. An excellent introduction can be found here.

The implications of this technology will be vast for manufacturing in the auto industry, with cost savings being passed onto the consumers in time. Not only is 3D printing making the production process cheaper, but it is also making vehicles lighter, stronger, faster and more reliable.

3D printing is being adopted in two key ways.

The first - the more revolutionary - is where entire cars are being 3D printed. Local Motors printed the first 3D-printed car in 2014. This method hasn’t moved far beyond the prototype stage, primarily due to Ford’s production line still being the most efficient way to create a large number of vehicles.

The second is being integrated by car firms all over the world right now. Car parts can now be created using 3D printing for either integration into the build of a new vehicle, or for use by an old vehicle for maintenance and servicing. Reducing the supply chain in this way by producing parts on-demand will drive economies of scale throughout the industry. This will lower costs of production, driving profits towards innovation and development, forcing us faster towards the future of the automobile.

Audi is already adopting 3D printing, using it to create higher quality materials and parts, as well as locating 3D printers around the world that will allow for more efficient inventory and supply chain management. They also hope that 3D printing will take the company to the moon!

Shieldpay predicts… 3D printing is about to enter the mainstream in auto production. Next time you need a spare part for your car, there’s a good chance you might be receiving something that has been 3D printed… especially if you drive an Audi.



Purchasing goes digital  

One technology that feels close to home is the revolution taking place in car purchasing, where the buying process is being transformed by technology.

From a data perspective, there has never been a more transparent time to purchase a car, with services such as HPI and CarWow offering consumers more transparency than ever before about car history. Financing a purchase has never been easier, too. Car finance is now offered in a plethora of ways. One of these is via P2P platforms, like ZOPA. Protecting against fraud is also offered by technology, and at we offer protection for buyers and sellers. It’s also worth mentioning that the biggest online retailer of them all, Amazon, are quietly building a presence selling cars via their platform.  

This technology-led approach is being replicated in showrooms, too. In a recent survey, 89% of buyers said they would be more likely to proceed after exploring the car’s features using virtual reality. Forward-thinking firms like BMW have launched showrooms that use augmented reality, where customers use smartphones to view models of cars superimposed on the world.

It’s true to say that buying a car will never be the same again. And these changes are good news, and they’re coming sooner than you think.

Shieldpay predicts… the stressful, uncertain days of buying or selling a car are about to be left far behind with the advent of a whole host of technologies that are designed to make the whole process more transparent, efficient and enjoyable.



As you can see, we predict the changes coming to the industry in the next 12 months will be significant. But this is no reason to be alarmed. Rather, these are reasons to be optimistic. Like in so many industries - such as finance, healthcare and insurance - technology is allowing for efficiencies and developments in the auto industry that are driving innovation and progress. It’s an exciting time to be involved.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and let us know what you think will shape the future of motoring in the next 12 months. Have we covered the big three above? Or have we missed out something significant? Let us know. We’d love to chat.

And just in case you thought we had made a glaring oversight, the prospect of automation, driverless cars and their impact on the auto industry is on our radar, too. Check out our feature on this topic here.

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