The Future of Driving

The future of the motoring industry is an often hot discussion that appears not only in the media, but in everyday conversations.

It’s these conversations that encourage brands and manufacturers to look at planning and product development differently, taking not only technology into consideration but also infrastructure and consumer behaviours.

Kia has been part of the UK’s ever changing motoring landscape for 25 years now, and to celebrate this milestone Kia Motors (UK) Limited commissioned Dr. Frank Shaw from Centre for Future Studies to create a report that looks into the possibilities driving change in the motoring industry over the next 25 years.

As a brand it’s always important to look forward and whilst some elements of the future are already appearing through product development, such as automation, we also need to take economic advances into consideration.

2041 is 25 years away and, according to the Dr. Frank Shaw, by that point we will see many changes that will have lead to a landscape ready for fully autonomous cars. 

The Centre for Future Studies report shows that autonomous vehicle implementation will take between one to three decades to dominate the sales market, plus a further one or two more to penetrate the travel market. 

We talk about automation as only one option, but as manufacturers we know there are multiple stages of this technology. Dr. Frank Shaw believes there are four levels of these vehicle types and the industry has already seen significant developments in this field. 

Customers are already experiencing the first two levels, with function-specific automation where elements, such as cruise control, lane guidance and changing and parallel parking are already in effect. At the moment the driver is still in control at all times, but is able to disengage from driving in certain conditions. 

What the report explains is how the third and fourth levels of automation are being developed, with drivers eventually not expected to monitor the road and able to cede all safety-critical functions to the vehicle. The car will be able to perform all driving functions and monitor roadway conditions, operating with or without human occupants. According to the report, level four autonomous vehicles will represent approximately 50 per cent of vehicle sales, 30 per cent of vehicles and 40 per cent of all vehicle travel by the 2040s.

Dr. Frank Shaw, who has been described by Time Magazine as one of the 10 most influential thinkers in the world, says: “There is considerable speculation in 2016 about autonomous driving, the full impacts of which will not become manifest until the 2040s. I am confident however that over the next twenty five years, the industry and technology companies will deliver a safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly driving experience for everyone.”

As well as the development into fully autonomous vehicles the report also examines connectivity of cars and how they will be able to communicate vital information on road infrastructures. 

The analysis by Centre for Future Studies around the report shows that by 2041 vehicles will be connected to other vehicles, traffic experts and city planners in order to communicate safety conditions, changes in road conditions and monitoring in real time. It is estimated that by 2020 approximately eight million intelligent, connected vehicles will be on the UK roads. 

A key development will be the implementation of intelligent tyres. Tyres will have a bigger role to play in the vehicle’s performance by 2041 than they do today. The future will see tyres that will be connected, enabling them to share information about road conditions. To achieve this tyres will first be connected wirelessly to the vehicle to improve safety. The next stage is for cars to share information via vehicle- to-vehicle connectivity. 

The report we commissioned allows Kia and other brands to visualise the future beyond what we are currently doing to create the next generation of vehicles. Kia is committed to creating workable and affordable technologies that will reduce greenhouse emissions and deliver alternative power solutions. The report says that will can expect to see the majority of cars electrified by 2041. 

Like other brands, we are already working towards a greener, more connected vehicle where technology is enabling it to serve the owner to the best of its ability.

Our goal over the next 25 years is to remain relevant, while making ground breaking changes to the automotive industry that will see others follow suit. 

The report has highlighted where we at Kia are on track in making the vehicles of the future. It has also brought to the forefront some thought-provoking matters which will lead the industry as a whole to question the future of what we now refer to as ‘the car’.

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