The automotive industry has undergone tremendous changes in the recent decades. Call it the internet revolution, rising awareness, or the post-recession sobering up, consumers are growing increasingly rational in their decision-making. They know precisely what they want from their cars and are not falling prey to marketing tricks and advertising tactics. These consumer behavior changes have challenged automakers to evolve better to meet the needs of their target groups. Here are some of the automotive industry trends in 2020 that every automaker and car dealer must be aware of.


1. Research

Over 40% of all car buyers in 2020 will be millennials. The majority of these – a whopping 88% – will use the internet to perform extensive research on the vehicles they like. They’ll dig into the car features, price differences, value for money, service quality, car sales trends, and a lot more information. It’s no surprise that most of these car buyers will have a crystal-clear idea about which car/s they will buy. In most cases, they’ll just be waiting for the right time and the right deal.


2. Privacy
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FBI has recently warned American automakers of the sophisticated cyberattacks being mounted by malicious cyber actors, including nation-states and independent actors, on them. In fact, the rise in cyber attacks have been one of the major auto industry trends since at least 2018.

There’s a rapid rise in the intensity and sophistication of hacks on automakers and their products. The internet-connected cars and autonomous vehicles collect enormous amounts of data about their owners and are therefore, the natural targets of hackers. Privacy-conscious consumers are demanding robust, secure, and well-protected computer systems in their cars. They are also loathed to making purchases on platforms that their “feel” are prone to compromising their privacy.


3. Transparency

Modern consumers are not coaxed or bullied into buying things they don’t understand fully. Fueled by internet penetration and increasing access to information, they now demand to know every tiny detail about the product they buy. That includes cars.

They actively look for open and fair platforms, where they can get exhaustive information about cars, their features, and more, so that they can make informed decisions.


4. Software-defined Innovation
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Modern consumers demand their vehicles to be state-of-the-art in every aspect. This expectation is more pronounced in the case of software systems. They want the latest features, user-experiences, and functionalities in their software-defined systems like infotainment. Naturally, OEMs are under increasing pressure to not only equip their vehicles with the latest software but also update them, upgrade them, and keep them ‘latest’ over the years.

Vehicle software and OEM’s software policy will potentially emerge as a major differentiator for car brands and will become one of the major automotive trends this year.


5. Usage-based Insurance Packages Will Rise

The new generation of vehicles is fitted with a dizzying variety of sensors. They collectively gather enormous amounts of data that can give insurance providers unprecedented insight into the driving patterns of the drivers. Drivers who are ready to share such driving data with the insurance providers will be able to command personalized insurance packages from the providers. Well-behaved drivers will likely get better insurance packages in comparison to the road rage-prone drivers.


6. Automation Will Dominate Everyone’s Talks
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Last year, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, promised that a fully functional self-driving car will be a reality in 2020. Although that sounds like a lofty claim, it must be noted that some of the Tesla models already feature a limited number of self-driving capabilities like changing lane, taking the exit, and so on. Whether the Tesla announcement will materialize into something real on road is anyone’s guess at this point.

Another reason to celebrate for self-driving enthusiasts is the emergence of Level 3 Automation capabilities. Mercedes’ Drive Pilot, Cadillac’s Super Cruise, Audi’s Traffic Jam Pilot, and others, are capable of completely taking over critical functions of driving under certain conditions. Even Hyundai has invested $35 billion into this technology, effectively bringing this technology to the middle-class in the near future. The writing on the wall is clear – self-driving cars are the future, and that future is 2020!


7. Quality Over Affordability and Sustainability

A recent study, which focused on auto industry trends and buyer preferences, concluded that car buyers prioritize quality over everything else when making the purchase decision. They placed quality above sustainability and even affordability. This, despite the fact that a sustainability-focused car manufacturer enjoyed outstanding brand perception from the surveyed. The report attributed low car sales trends of electric vehicles to their relatively high prices. However, the EV sales are expected to rise substantially over time, including this year, and command a whopping 55% market share by 2030.


8. Personalized Driving Experience

In other car news, Fully tailored driving experiences are all set to become one of the most disruptive automotive industry trends of 2020. Imagine a car that adjusts its seat, mirror, AC, radio, and more, automatically based on the driver sitting behind the wheel. A plethora of features and robust AI are making this a reality. The AI will also be able to “understand” your mood, state of wakefulness, and your level of distraction to change the settings and even improve your driving. In addition to creating a highly comfortable experience, the AI will also make the roads safer.


9. Enhanced Car-buying Experience
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As discussed before, a considerable percentage of car buyers perform internet research before making the purchase. They check car news, auto trends, and latest car reviews to mine a wealth of information on the car models they like. So, they already know what car they wish to purchase or have a shortlist of likely candidates. Now, with the emerging AR and VR car-buying experiences, the consumers don’t even have to visit the dealers for a test drive.

Toyota’s AR system and Audi’s VR experience, for instance, are allowing consumers to experience the cars from the inside right from the comforts of their own home. Besides the tremendous obvious advantage, it also enables showrooms and dealers to stock fewer car models on-premises, thereby reducing their investment into inventory. It’s a win-win for everyone.



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