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Automotive industry megatrends – what’s likely in the next 20 years

John Day

John Day

Posted Aug 30, 2011

Journalist/engineer Bruce Morey has just completed a book on automotive megatrends in which he looks at the likely future evolution of long-standing (internal combustion engines, transmissions, etc.) and newer technologies (smart cars, hydrogen fuel cells) and how they are all likely to come together – or not – in the next 20 years.

His book, “Automotive 2030–North America,” is available from SAE International. To order, visit

Morey writes that the current rapid rate of innovation in the automotive industry is mainly fueled by the need to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions, the increased use of electronics in vehicles, and the ramifications of global development.

He summarizes key developments in vehicle technologies, identifies trends, and predicts the future of internal combustion engines, transmissions, vehicle bodies, and materials. With continued uncertainty about fuel prices and availability, engineers will refine these technologies to deliver better fuel economy. A new array of technical developments is resulting from gasoline-electric hybrids. Mild hybrid technologies, such as electric motors assisting starts coupled with idle-stop technologies, will likely become standard in all new cars.

A second megatrend, alternative fuel sources, encompasses electric battery vehicles, electric plug-ins and range-extended vehicles, as well as fuel cells that use pure hydrogen. A third megatrend is the emergence of the “smart” car. Newer affordable sensors, including imaging, sonar, and radar, coupled with cheap and powerful computers, should enable affordable autonomous driving by 2030. However, outside of transferring control in the case of imminent danger, human drivers are reluctant to transfer control to a robotic car. Adding communication infrastructure elements to create a smart environment, while elegant technically, requires more investment than the U.S. can probably make before 2030. Morey suggests that the most we might expect is a mandate for vehicle-to-vehicle communication devices motivated by safety concerns.

With over 20 years of experience in technology development, research, and management, Bruce Morey offers an informed perspective on critical topics such as:

—  Key vehicle technology development

—  Improving fuel economy through powertrain, transmissions, vehicle bodies, and materials

—  Electric battery vehicles, plug-in electric vehicles, extended-range vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cells

—  Smart car technology including sensors and communication devices

The book is written for executives, decision-makers, managers, and academics who need a long-range view of the trends that will influence the automotive market in North America for the next 20 years.

automotive industry megatrends, Bruce Morey, Automotive 2030 - North America, SAE International

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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