Emerging Vehicle Technologies and the Impact on the Automotive Aftermarket

Monday, August 06, 2018

By Joe Register, Vice President, Emerging Technologies, Auto Care Association

New Vehicle Technologies

While nearly every driver recognizes that vehicle technologies have evolved dramatically in recent years, they may be unaware of the cumulative scope and impact of these changes. Nearly every aspect of vehicle design, production, driver experience and service are impacted by the advancement in new construction materials, manufacturing processes, driver automation and advanced communication systems introduced every new model year. This unprecedented rate of change presents an ever-increasing challenge to aftermarket companies struggling to keep up with these advances.

What are Emerging Vehicle Technologies?

To capture the scope of these technologies, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) was called upon by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) to develop a technology roadmap for automotive. Their roadmap offers a broad perspective of anticipated trends through the next decade and beyond. During the study they identified and reviewed over a hundred existing roadmaps published by consulting firms, independent think tanks and trade journals along with the latest information presented at key industry events. CAR then synthesized their research and roadmaps into three groups: Intelligent Mobility Technology; Materials and Manufacturing Processes; and Light Duty Vehicle Propulsion. Finally, CAR invited 25 experts from each of the technology groups to validate their findings. Read more about this CAR study and download a copy of their roadmap by following this link: https://www.cargroup.org/roadmap-for-automotive-technology-advancement/

How Do These Technologies Impact the Aftermarket?

While there’s little question that all three of CARS technology groups will eventually impact every business in the automotive sector, it’s expected that the Materials and Manufacturing Processes and Light Duty Vehicle Propulsion Technologies groups will have the greatest immediate impact on vehicle manufacturers. Although the rate of change may be unprecedented, we expect aftermarket companies will continue to adapt their products to meet the requirements of these newly introduced construction materials and production techniques, yet we don’t expect it to be business as usual with some of the technologies in the Intelligent Mobility Technology group.

The Intelligent Mobility Technology group consists of four technologies listed here in order of their expected impact to the aftermarket: Vehicle Communication, Automated Driver Assistance Systems, New Mobility Services and Vehicle Automation. Coupled with vehicle manufacturer deployment strategies designed to eliminate direct access to vehicle network information, the Vehicle Communication group’s technologies represent a potent mixture of opportunity and threat to aftermarket product and service providers and the subject of this post. ADAS and its impact to the aftermarket was the subject of an earlier blog and will be discussed in future blog posts, so be sure to watch for these postings in the next few weeks!

The Evolution and Future of Vehicle Communication Technologies

Since the introduction of a standardized OBD II port, legacy customers have looked to the automotive aftermarket to provide innovative products and services to maintain and repair their vehicles once the manufacturer’s warranty period expires. Because the OBD port required a physical connection, it was obvious when someone connected a device to your vehicle. But tracking these connections became more difficult with the advent of wireless connectivity and automotive head units.

“Head unit” usually refers to an automotive infotainment component that provides a unified hardware interface, e.g., screens, buttons, voice recognition, etc. Customers were delighted when manufacturers began integrating more advanced systems with these head units, including interfaces with the vehicle’s internal networks. This integration provisioned real-time monitoring of vehicle operational data in addition to the infotainment content already streaming wirelessly into the head unit. It’s unfortunate this enhanced connectivity also introduced the risk of hackers hijacking inbound communication to gain access to the integrated internal vehicle networks. The infamous 2014 Jeep Cherokee controlled by non-malevolent “white hat” hackers proved you could send commands from a remote laptop through the entertainment system to control the car’s steering, brakes and transmission systems.

While everyone in the automotive industry recognized the magnitude of this event, strategies to eliminate the risk took two paths. A group of vehicle manufacturers insisted the only way to address the problem was to cut off all direct access to their vehicles. This group authored a set of standards called Extended Vehicle designed to route all vehicle communication through the vehicle manufacturer’s infrastructure. The Extended Vehicle work group made no attempt to standardize security, communications or message content to and from their vehicles. Such details have been left up to each manufacturer’s implementation. Finally, Extended Vehicle ensures each vehicle manufacturer has sole access and control over the data generated by their vehicles, including driving behavior and personal information.

In contrast, the competing Secure Vehicle Interface (SVI) design provides secure and standardized access to vehicle information, including direct access to internal vehicle networks to support diagnostic and performance monitoring. Access and control over the communication of operational, behavioral and personal information can be managed by the vehicle owner who can elect to share this information with authorized and secure third-party applications and independent service providers. In addition, SVI supports secure communication with city Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) which is not possible within the existing Extended Vehicle design. Best of all, the SVI set of standards can be implemented in both new car architecture or retrofitted legacy vehicles.

See Live SVI Demonstrations at AAPEX

The Auto Care Association will host several live demonstrations of SVI in action during the 2018 AAPEX show. These demonstrations will feature direct, secure access to internal vehicle network data as well as communications with the Las Vegas ITS infrastructure information. Please check your AAPEX program guide for the location and times of these events as well as Let’s Tech presentations, Mobility Garage and the AAPEX Technology of Tomorrow section – I look forward to seeing you there!