Five Top Automotive Executives Predict the Future

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2017 Aston Martin DB11

If you want to get a glimpse of the automotive future, it’s best to look to the top. Here’s what five executives from Harman have to say about where the car industry is headed.

The automotive industry’s rate of change is only accelerating. According to our colleagues at Motor Authority, Nissan says its self-driving cars will be able to handle door-to-destination travel by 2020. Tesla has also said it expects full, “Level 5” autonomy to hit the market in 2020 as well. Simply one element, autonomous driving, will completely revolutionize our relationship with the automobile. Other facets of change like in-vehicle technology, IoT (Internet of things), and mobile interaction with car buying will only contribute to what could become an industry unrecognizable to someone with two feet firmly planted in 2017.

To help make sense of all the changes that lay before us, five executives from automotive technology company Harman, have come to us to offer their perspectives for what to expect over the next 10 years.

Cars will move from device-centric to experience-centric.

“The car’s evolution from device-centric to experience-centric cannot happen without unified and untethered collaboration among OEMs and suppliers. An open approach to future mobility will be critical for automakers to accelerate their time-to-market for user-centric changes across model line ups and unveil a long overdue makeover in the car cabin.”
— John Absmeier, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Autonomous / ADAS Strategic Business

Harman Kardon Speaker Grille

Premium audio will become smarter.

“Right now, the automotive market is saturated with premium audio, and a lot of companies are looking to expand the market and reach more consumers with simpler solutions that provide a premium listening experience. Rather than add in more advanced speakers, software can improve the performance of an entry level amplifier. In this vein, we’ll see a shift to car audio platforms capable of delivering multiple levels of systems and features – from luxury to economy – in a way that’s easy for OEM’s to scale and continue to differentiate. When it comes to in-car technology, the importance of audio/video systems is growing. As hands come off the steering wheel and we are freed up to do more while driving, audio suppliers will be focused on expanding and integrating premium audio capabilities with immersive video to deliver unprecedented entertainment, communication and even productivity experiences.”
— Chris Ludwig, Senior Director of EPIC Experience

2017 Aston Martin DB11

In-vehicle technology’s importance will become critical.

“Consumer habits are driving a paradigm shift within the automotive industry that places a greater emphasis on in-car technology than ever before. The legacy cockpit, featuring analog displays and a singular infotainment system, will soon be obsolete – especially as we move closer to full autonomy and a passenger economy – making scalable, centralized electronic control units powering multiple displays an inevitability. ”
— Tim Van Goethem, Vice President of Infotainment Platform Group

Today’s smooth transition to autonomy will guarantee tomorrow’s sales success.

“The transition period between cars today and autonomous vehicles will be critical to the success of future mobility investments. To get to that level of autonomy, the automotive industry needs to begin the process towards a passenger economy now, focusing on delivering occupants flexible, streamlined and personalized content. The industry can expect to see increased innovation around user experiences and human machine interfaces to provide cockpit displays dedicated to the driver’s personal preferences.”
— Rashmi Rao, Senior Director of Global Engineering

Audi S3

Don’t wave “goodbye” to the dealership just yet.

“The trend towards online car shopping and buying is here to stay. The number of visits a car shopper will make to a dealership are down from 7+ a few years ago to an average of 1.2 now. However, this means the showroom experience will become critical to closing the deal. Automakers and dealer bodies will continue to embrace customer desires for rich experiences, and invest in innovations such as VR test drives and seamless, personalized transitions between online and offline experiences to seal the deal in the one shot dealers get.”
— Bill Wyman, Vice President of Global Marketing for Car Audio

With Harman’s connected car and premium audio systems currently occupying more than 30 million vehicles worldwide, the five executives above have their finger on the pulse of where the automotive industry is headed, and as long as we look toward their insights, we mitigate the risk of waking up blindsided by an automotive industry that’s poised to change overnight.

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