What Lies Ahead for the Future of Automobiles and the Future of Cities



The present difficulties give us some clues on how the future will evolve. The traffic congestion, environmental pollution, and traffic accidents we experience following automobile civilization have reached a point that cannot be resolved by the expansion of road or railway infrastructure.

Wouldn’t environmental pollution be reduced with the use of electric vehicles?
Wouldn’t traffic accidents be reduced by using autonomous vehicles?
Wouldn’t the traffic congestion be reduced if we use a shared car?

The solutions that humanity has put forward can be summarized into electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and shared cars.

Electric cars can resolve environmental pollution problems, which is the biggest headache of internal combustion engine cars, and with their simple structure, we have low maintenance costs. Mileage and battery prices were an issue, but battery pack prices are expected to drop by around 2020.

Roland Berger defined the future of mobility as a way of putting together a variety of means of transportation to integrate the entire mobility process so that the processes can be conducted in a simple and efficient manner. In other words, we make the traffic flow more flexible by efficiently linking automobiles and other means of transportation.

In line with the trend of a shared society that will be a distinctive feature of the future society, the spread of autonomous cars will promote the car share and make the urban traffic flow much smoother. On the other hand, if people have the freedom to enjoy your time and space instead of driving, people may customize their cars according to their needs and have stronger sense of ownership, leading to the phenomenon of super customization, which would be the opposite of the concept of sharing.

Autonomous cars will transform the social system and the city. It will have a large impact on the elements of the social system such as electricity, government authorities, finance, telecommunications, energy, power, transportation as well as industrial structure, and the urban design paradigm and the city outlook itself will change. The transformation will not only be limited to the automotive industry and mobility but will affect our society as a whole. The day will soon come when the social systems, including urban design, infrastructure, laws and institutions, will be fully reorganized for the implementation of autonomous driving.

The prospect that the industry will change significantly starts with the following question: What would people do in an autonomous car when they no longer drive it? In a video that Hyundai Motor made with predictions for the car life in 2050, the main character, Shelly, arrived at her destination while sleeping but people will not only use the time as a chance of rest during the autonomous driving, but also enjoy various internet-based entertainment and have time for learning or working.

Perhaps you may go as far as buying a car on an installment with the amount of money that would have paid your rent and actually decide to live in the car. Under these changes, semiconductors, software or AI businesses related to autonomous driving might take a large part of the profits which usually have been taken by automobile manufacturers.

It is predicted that Google will design and build a future social system by combining ICT and autonomous vehicles. “Google will acquire energy-related businesses and hardware companies to build a service platform that can provide energy-related services on a network at all times. If they enter the automobile industry in full scale, the era of automakers establishing a competitive edge just by developing, manufacturing and selling cars will end. ”(Ryosuke Izumida, ‘Why does Google make cars?’)

If ICT powerhouse Google and Tesla which designs and manufactures electric cars join hands, the prospect of the two being the biggest threat to the existing automotive industry shows what consumers expect of future cars.

For over a hundred years in the past, cars have competed on performance. What will be the factors that determine the added value of a car in the current situation where all cars manufactured by major companies have high performance?

In a society where the objects are connected to the Internet so that cars, architecture, and almost everything are connected to the Internet and communicate with one another, cars will be the ultimate mobile device. Apple’s comments have great implications. Why did Apple label cars as the ultimate mobile device? How will the automotive market evolve if a car has both a UI and applications like the iPhone?

When the hardware named a car is connected to the network and becomes a service platform, it will be a powerful decision-making factor in choosing a car. In the past, selling high-quality hardware (cars) was all that was needed, but in the future, it is necessary to create a network-based service platform.

Hyundai’s recent strategic investment with Code42 also seems to be based on this trend. Code42 will be committed to the smart mobility solutions industry of Hyundai cars together with Hyundai motor group with its insights into the future mobility industry and experience in operating a service platform.

When network-based autonomous electric vehicles are used as shared vehicles, the era of the service platform will start and this will be the future automobile business. The door is now open, and some people are already preparing for the implementation of ICT and energy to cars.