Automotive Industries: Auto Industry Turns to IT for Product Differentiation
Nov 26, 2012 (Close-Up Media via COMTEX) --
Information Technology (IT) is the new driving force behind product differentiation in the auto industry, says Automotive Industries (AI) editor Ed Richardson.
"Looking back through the past 100 years of AI issues, one sees a progression from a focus on reliability and quality, to comfort, and then safety and fuel efficiency.
"Now those qualities are a given. With the possible exception of some Chinese and Indian marques, a new vehicle bought in 2012 will be safer than ever, will use less fuel, will be more comfortable, and more reliable than ever before.
"As we see in Automotive Industries, suppliers have developed paints, glass systems and plastics materials which have given designers unprecedented freedom that is only constrained by the physical forces of drag and minimum ground clearance. So, there's a car and color for you, whether you want to look funky, sexy, macho or standard issue business. And, if all you want is a cheap and reliable people mover, you'll find that too.
"Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) recognize this, and have looked outside of the traditional supplier network to speak to designers and manufacturers of electronic equipment.
"The result is an increasingly connected car -- inside and out.
"At the leading edge, GPS systems (which are integrated into the entertainment module) communicate with the myriad of computers managing the engine and other moving components in order to ensure that just the right amount of power is needed for the hill ahead. That same car could be communicating with the dealership to book a service, or download the latest app through 3G and 4G connections.
"It's what the millennials -- the new generation of car buyers -- expect. They have grown up in a connected world, and probably never had the experience of having to picnic alongside the road while dad fixed the car. Many will never even have changed a wheel.
"Where my generation is turned on by horsepower, growling exhausts and vehicles with road holding idiosyncrasies that make them fun to drive, millenials look for a different experience -- one driven by access to information and connectivity.
"These trends are reflected in the latest edition of Automotive Industries. A nice parallel is the personal computer. When they first came onto the market, one spent hours poring over the specs, calculating whether they would be able to run the programs one was using. Now, we choose what looks best, weighs the least, and falls within our budget. Every new computer will have the power to do the job.
"That same computing power is now helping OEMs to differentiate their models. Computer chips control the ambient lighting, adjust the seat, set the air conditioning, and manage complex multi-media systems which also connect vehicle and driver to 'the cloud.' And, if you want an 'old school' experience, all you have to do switch off all the electronic bits and enjoy the drive -- without having to keep a constant eye on the temperature and oil gauges!"
According to a release, subjects covered in the latest edition of Automotive Industries include biofuels, the challenges facing the European and US auto industries, semiconductors, head units telematics, navigation systems, Android in the motor vehicle, the shift to lighter materials such as polymers and aluminum, and new glazing systems designed to keep cars cooler without sapping power from the engine.
Automotive Industries (AI) is a trade publication covering the automaking business.
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