Innovation in the Automotive Industry

On the Precipice of Massive Change

The automotive industry is undergoing massive technological and social change. Automotive manufacturers, companies in the automotive supply chain, and technology startups eyeing the automotive market need to understand the innovations that are taking place today – and those that will take place tomorrow. By having an accurate picture of the state of innovation, these companies can better assess and incorporate new technologies into the long-term business and product strategy.

Major automobile manufacturers currently take three general approaches to innovation: bringing new and advanced technologies into the automobile; continually optimizing and enhancing manufacturing and the supply chain; and adapting their business models proactively in anticipation of the decline of individuals owning cars. We have examined the innovations in the first category: the technologies and solutions the car manufacturers are investing in to bring autonomous cars to market, to increase safety, and to enhance the driver and passenger experience. The result is a new whitepaper, “Innovation in the Automotive Industry,” which provides insights on some of the more interesting developments and technologies in the market.

Interestingly, the speed with which automotive manufacturers have invested in or acquired emerging technologies and startups has accelerated greatly over the past eight years. General Motors Ventures kicked off with $100 million in 2010; in 2011, BMW launched iVentures with the same amount of investment. In 2013, Ford acquired Livio Radio (a developer of a platform for in-car apps) – the automaker’s first acquisition in 13 years. Since then, Ford has acquired four emerging technology companies. Daimler made just five investments in 2015 – 2016 but made 15 investments from January 2017 to mid-2018. Toyota AI Ventures was set up last year, also with $100 million. Alliance Ventures, a group from the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, was started in January 2018 and plans to invest up to $1 billion over the next five years. From an investment point of view, BMW is the most active automaker by a wide margin. The company has disclosed more than 30 investments since 2012; with 10 in 2017 alone. (Note: these numbers come from Crunchbase).

As the industry (and society) moves closer to realizing autonomous cars on a larger scale, it’s important to recognize that autonomous vehicles simply can’t afford to fail. Therefore, evaluating, testing, and ultimately, selecting any innovation or technology must be at the highest level. At yet2, we experience this frequently, as a result of our work with NASA, where, as the movie Apollo 13 noted, “failure is not an option.”

We have identified three broad areas in which the major automotive players are investing, researching and developing:

  • Power/Electrical
  • Safety/ADAS/Autonomous Vehicles and
  • Content/Infotainment/Entertainment.

Download our whitepaper, “Innovation in the Automotive Industry” to learn what the team thinks about a range of enabling technologies, such as LiDAR, 3D mapping, vision systems, and more.