The worst of the coronavirus is behind us, but now, even as life returns to normal, industries are dealing with the long-term consequences of the global pandemic.
It has certainly given the automotive industry much to consider.
One question is, has the pandemic given us the necessary outlook to appreciate the need for stricter emission policies and regulations for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles?
As the world embraces an increasingly eco-friendly future and EVs as its preferred mode of transport, ICE vehicles are on the road to obsoletion—along with traditional automotive engineering.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, however.
There are many indicators that predict a more dramatic shift in buyer behaviour and consumer demand, which will require technicians and engineers to pick up new skills and leverage new technology.
Here are a few ways in which the global pandemic accelerated certain trends that are now shaping the future of the automotive industry.
Social distancing led to the adoption of new systems for prototyping and testing
The long-lasting impact of the coronavirus is unfolding before us and one thing that is evident is its propelling effect on the adoption of greater innovation across the industry.
Social distancing requirements, for instance, made it near impossible for teams to work together in the same space, resulting in the industry adopting new technologies to get the work done.
A good example of this is VR prototyping. While COVID-19 contributed to its wide-scale adoption, it will, nonetheless, shape the future of the automotive industry. The technology will be one of the foundations on which the next era of mechanical engineering will be built.
Engineers, in particular, will be able to use these technologies to create virtual renderings of vehicles and their components, and use these platforms to improve vehicular design and test developed models in virtual environments.
VR prototyping, however, is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the advanced technologies automotive engineers will have to embrace in the near future.
The vehicles of tomorrow will also rely heavily on advanced technologies such as LiDAR, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and high-definition cameras.
As the industry moves with this shift, we can predict that automotive engineering companies will grapple with many career advancement opportunities as newly designed chassis systems and body controls, new electronic components, advanced vehicle aerodynamics and stability solutions gain greater traction.
Automotive engineering, as we know it, is experiencing a steep learning curve to meet the future requirements of the industry; a fact fuelled by the new normal every industry is operating in.
Consumers are interested in greater connectivity across their vehicles in a post-pandemic world
COVID-19 has also accelerated certain high-priority consumer needs; greater and safety connectivity being a few of them. This twin need for safety and connectivity will extend to the vehicles people drive, building on trends that we’ve seen in the industry in recent years.
Alongside a greater number of vehicles with advanced connectivity capabilities, automotive engineers are now exploring new career opportunities and progressions, providing they upskill in time to keep pace with the changes that are taking place in this field.
This staggering demand for connectivity, however, will also see a rise in cybersecurity risks, requiring significant research and development to prevent the obvious risks of a smart car being hacked; risks that have been fuelled by the global disruption of the pandemic.
What this means for automotive technicians and engineers is that their skill sets will need to account for these risks in their own processes, and understand how their techniques need to change when they perform certain services.
What does the future look like for automotive technicians and engineers?
Just as the requirements and demands of technical engineering are changing today, there’s also greater opportunities, these days, for online technical training.
What’s left is for technicians and engineers to acquire this knowledge and carve out specialisations for themselves in a field that will continue experiencing the long-term effects of COVID-19.