Where is the key automotive technology to compete profitably to be found, where do you focus your investments? From a margin perspective, the greatest value is in unique control systems however there are many areas that are rich in future earnings. Yes there will continue to be the drive to value engineer products, to reduce unit costs through smarter designs and faster better manufacturing technology but if you were to focus as an Australian company on R&D, where would that focus lie?
- Energy Storage – In propulsion technology the key issue facing all OEM’s is energy storage – Batteries. Efficiency of motors is important but the key element holding the rapid adoption of hybrids or electric vehicles is the lack of appropriate energy storage i.e. capacity, time to recharge, cost and weight.
- Range extenders – hybrid power systems taking advantage of high efficiency combustion systems and high energy density and thus range of current fuels.
Control technology including:
- Self driving vehicles
- Automated parking
- Safety systems such as responsive braking and avoidance systems
- Integration with the internet applications
- Heads up control systems
- Simplified and integrated in-car electronics. One wire single loom for many cars models, easily programmable, low cost and installed by robots.
- Integrated production systems eg forging and finish machining, quality control and packing in one line with no human intervention!
- The next generation of multi-dimensional “printing” for true production of more than plastic demo parts or prototypes which are cost and quality competitive.
Australia has a real capability in precision medical equipment and advanced consumer electronics, surely it can compete in advanced automotive technologies too! What technology should Australian automotive companies be investing in? Who should they be partnering, merging or investing in? How do you evaluate your development dollar to ensure a best global cost, high margin, high quality and competitive product and naturally be the next thing in demand…? Which automotive technology to compete most effectively and profitably will you invest in, what is your strategy now and in the future?