The 2018 top ten automotive predictions

The automotive industry is undergoing the most significant change since Henry Ford industrialized automotive manufacturing in 1908. Digital is driving the revolution.

While the past 100 years were largely focused on incrementally enhancing manufacturing to become more efficient for mass scale, the future is about redefining the role of the vehicle for passengers.

But just how far has the industry come? What will become relevant this coming year and what won’t?

Accenture’s Marcello Tamietti and Gabriel Seiberth share their views on the top 10 predictions for the automotive industry in 2018.


Connected cars aren’t quite where they could be: drivers can’t use many of the web-enabled vehicles’ features while driving, which renders some of them almost useless. And many of the existing in-vehicle apps are nowhere as good as the software drivers have on their smartphones. That’s in part because their user interface isn’t as sophisticated, and in part because they aren’t as “smart” as the apps on our phones yet. If Siri knows that you’re headed for your office—why doesn’t your car’s navigation software?

Most of this has to do with how data is being brought into, and used in, the car. The connectivity is there, the computing power is there, and the data are there—connected cars create up to 25 GB of them in an hour. What’s been missing, however, are means to interact with that data in seamless and smart ways that enhance the driving experience without distracting drivers. That’s what artificial intelligence (AI) will change.

A breakthrough of “in-vehicle” AI and algorithm solutions will be the most important next step in auto technology in the coming twelve months. Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home are already being brought into some models. This means that these cars will become "third places," closely integrated with drivers’ offices and homes.

A breakthrough of “in-vehicle” AI and algorithm solutions will be the most important next step in auto tech in the coming twelve months.


Importantly, the integration of these now-commonplace AIs will bring machine learning and predictive capabilities into our cars, enabling them to personalize our driving experience. From the set-up of your car seat to in-vehicle infotainment and app-preferences—these AIs will learn what you need, and then configure the car’s services accordingly.

Additionally, the few remaining things which we might need to set-up or configure ourselves will be configured through voice-commands. No more need to push levers and buttons, no more need to take our hands off the wheel. With AI becoming the new user interface, connected cars will become truly useful and integrated into our connected lifestyles.

With AI becoming the new user interface, connected cars will become truly useful and integrated into our connected lifestyles.

But the AI breakthrough isn’t the only new trend on our prediction list for 2018. For the wider industry, we expect to see the following:


Smarter cars also enable new digital services around prediction. “Predictive parking,” for example, will enable connected cars to extrapolate where the next free parking space will be when you arrive at your destination. And “predictive vehicle maintenance” will turn the entire after sales business on its head.

After sales will go from interval-based—a new Cam Belt every 60.000 kilometers—to needs-based: The car will predict when a part will fail, and then book a maintenance slot with a repair shop, and order the spare parts—all by itself.

We’ll even see "self-configuring cars" very soon—vehicles that can predict driver preferences, weather and road conditions, and tweak their configuration—like suspension settingsaccordingly.


With so many services becoming available—and with AIs needing ways to be able to learn more about drivers and their preferences—a well-known digital service will finally come to our cars as well: digital identity management or, in other words, a user account and password for your car.

User authentication will be critical herefor personalization, services like media or e-mail, and, of course, payment. Some OEMs like Daimler have already put forth plans to build identity management solutions.


When it comes to industry digitization and the IoT, automakers tend to be far ahead of other manufacturers. But that doesn’t mean that they’re all set already. OEMs will continue investing in IoT and cloud technology capabilities, for example in areas like supply chain management and IT.

It’s all about agile: The more connected cars become, the more high-performing and agile a manufacturers IT infrastructure must become. All the OEMs know this, and all of them are investing in cloud infrastructure to solve for higher agility, lower cost and the capability to manage demand fluctuations.


Another area where OEMs will step up their already existing game is analytics: Be it in the plant, in cars or in marketing and salescapabilities around extracting value from large amounts of data are key, and are still being built.

Edge analyticsthe capability of embedding analytics routines in routers and other edge devices within machines or carshas really just started. But since you can’t have self-optimizing machinery or self-driving cars without it, edge analytics will take pole position in 2018.


All their analytics and AI prowess will also help OEMs streamline and automate many parts of their businesses, especially in areas like finance, HR, marketing and sales, or even customer service.

In fact, according to our recent research, AI could bring as much as a 39 percent productivity boost to the manufacturing section.

AI-enabled automation can streamline many kinds of repetitive tasks we will certainly see more of that in 2018.


Virtual reality will very much stay where it currently isthe technology has its uses, but augmented and mixed-reality have proven much more useful. We will see even more AR use cases in construction, engineering, marketing and maybe even next-gen heads-up displays in cars.

The shift to more AR will boost the rise of another somewhat new technology called digital twins or virtual 3D representations of physical products.

Soon, every car that leaves a factory will come with such a digital copy.


With so much more connectivity and software entering cars and car makers’ organizations, both IT and data security become an even more pressing concern. Fortunately, there’s another technology that might help with that. Blockchain, the encryption solution using public “ledgers” to secure digital payments, might very soon be used to authenticate drivers, cars and car parts, data transmissions, and other parts of the digital puzzle that is the “digitized” auto industry.

There’s a plethora of use cases, from supply chain management to car sharing interactions to preventing odometer fraud and both OEMs and suppliers are already embracing most of them.


While progress in self-driving technology will be made in the next twelve months, the breakthrough to fully autonomous carsor “level five” autonomous drivingwill not come in 2018. We’ll see level two and, maybe, level three features coming to premium vehicles in the next twelve months, like self-parking capabilities or traffic jam assistants.

There are still numerous technical challenges preventing us from reaching higher levels, and then there’s regulation: In most countries drivers will not even be allowed to use the level three features which they might get in their new cars.

We view 2018 as the year for the Connected Carbut the self-driving one will have to wait…

Marcello Tamietti

Marcello Tamietti
Accenture Managing Director

Gabriel Seiberth

Gabriel Seiberth
Accenture Managing Director