When it comes to car technology in 2022, there’s a lot going on.
On the electric vehicle front, the federal government has moved to encourage electric vehicle adoption, including funding for $7.5 billion worth of EV charging stations.
In August, California finalized a rule that will phase out sales of gas-powered cars in the state by 2035 — the first time any government in the world has issued such a mandate, although the governor of Washington State announced his intention to follow suit just days later. Most of the major car manufacturers are in some phase of transitioning to electric cars, seeking to cut into Tesla’s dominance of the market.
Meanwhile, the auto industry — and Silicon Valley along with it — is still trying to crack self-driving cars. They’re not nearly as ubiquitous as some predicted they would be by now, as Apple had aimed to launch by 2020, and Tesla has made numerous promises over the years about timing. But the tech does have some practical applications — especially when it comes to deliveries — with everyone from Walmart to Domino’s Pizza on board. There’s also innovation going on when it comes to software, with a new version of Apple’s CarPlay expected this fall.
Hanging over all of that are gas prices, which hit record highs earlier this year, and have served to keep less motorists in the car than usual. Average gas prices have continued to drop to below the $4-per-gallon market by mid-August, but they remain higher than is typically the case.
As for the auto aftermarket picture, NPD Group reported back in March that the average selling prices for the overall auto aftermarket jumped 14 percent in 2021, with prices for consumer replacement tires, specifically, increased 13 percent.
“The tire industry, like many others, is experiencing the effects of a shift in overall consumer behavior as it relates to pricing and demand,” Nathan Shipley, automotive industry analyst for NPD, said in the spring announcement. “Driving behavior has changed over the past two years, but the needs are still there. Consumers are currently focused on getting what they want, while they can, with what is available to them at retail stores.”
What are the major stories when it comes to car tech this year? Dealerscope asked some industry experts, including Thomas Healey, the COO of Seattle-based CarToys; Han Farouk,
Operations-Management of Car Stereo Warehouse in Charlotte; and Bobby Gummadi, the Dover store manager of the Mid-Atlantic-based Sound of Tri-State.
Dealerscope: What technology trends are you seeing in cars today?
Healey: “There are greatly improved driver’s safety/self-driving capabilities through the integration of sensors and cameras with vehicle controls and displays. Much more information is now available to the driver visually through vivid screens, providing clear, precise information as opposed to analog gauges. Car Play/Android Auto software has literally brought everything available on your mobile phone into your vehicle. The latest version of Car Play to be made available with iOS16 this fall will expand on this information to include speedometer and tachometer, along with a host of onboard diagnostic information chosen to be displayed by the driver. The quality of car entertainment has also greatly improved. From bigger, better screens to louder, clearer and more immersive audio, this trend will certainly continue culminating in highly immersive environments as vehicles become capable of self-driving.”
Farouk: “The technology trends tend to shift every one to three years for different fads in the market. Currently the most popular trend is integrating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in vehicles today. In the process, an additional must-have is a backup camera. The second trend starting to pick up are dash cams. People want to protect themselves from those drivers that don’t follow safety protocols and defensive driving. Part of this trend comes down to the markets’ need for convenience, quick and simple integration and safety from the unknown. LED light kits are a huge trend for turning heads. From underbody, to wheel lights, the rocklights, interior million color lighting, headlights, taillights, dome lights, accent lights and door lights, any light needs a custom touch to it to stand out. You can never have enough lights.”
Gummadi: “We’re seeing wireless integration, including Apple Carplay, Android Auto, Bluetooth streaming and wireless charging.”
Dealerscope: Where is networking going next in cars?
Healey: “Vehicle networks – CAN bus systems – have grown rapidly in sophistication the past few years with the advent of EVs, which are requiring advanced charging systems and the integration of numerous sensors into driver’s safety/self-driving capabilities. Further, the development of telematics capabilities have expanded the ability of CAN bus systems to communicate vehicle performance information externally. Future networks will continue to expand in processing power as well as the ability to integrate with external communications from technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet and ZigBee (IoT devices), allowing for a more comprehensive integration of the vehicle with its surroundings. As in-dash displays further integrate with the vehicle network, more information can be made available to both vehicle occupants as well as those outside the vehicle through telematics. Essentially, vehicles are becoming more c’onnected’ every day.”
Farouk: “Safety must be the first; therefore, technology evolution has no limits, from Aux/USB to Bluetooth, from Bluetooth to Apple Car play. The industry will always be integrating our day-to-day life into our cars schematics, which leaves the networking around the corner. Already Yelp has made its way into the industry via Weblink/ mirror link app.”
Gummadi: “I think it will go in the same direction that it’s already going as far as a seamless and wireless system, just a better version in the future.”
Dealerscope: What new tech is currently being developed for self-driving cars, and what challenges still remain?
Healey: “Tesla is clearly leading the way here, as their vehicles are nearly already capable of self-driving. Every EV maker is jumping into this space along with software companies such as Apple and Google along with chip companies such as Nvidia. The overwhelming challenge is safety. Road infrastructure – lane boundaries, traffic signs, crosswalks and numerous other features will need to provide better cues and more vehicles will need to be equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle communications capability before self-driving is a reality. As CAN bus processing power increases and AI technology advances, self-driving cars are an inevitability. The final hurdle will be overwhelming evidence that such vehicles are safe.”
Farouk: “Our specialty revolves around the 12V aftermarket industry. The newer cars have become more difficult to work on and integrate due to new features of the OEM components that can come off the dealers lot. For [example], ANC for Bluetooth creates feedback in subwoofers, which can lead to new parts.”
Gummadi: “Fully autonomous driving, and ride sharing with driverless cars. For example, Waymo is getting larger on the West Coast and could spread over the U.S. very quickly. As far as challenges, I think the infrastructure that’s out for wireless charging isn’t enough to keep up with the demand that we’re going to be seeing in the future.”
Dealerscope: What is your favorite car electronics product today?
Healey: “As a music lover my favorite products are the digital signal processing devices that allow a vehicle to be precisely tuned to its unique acoustic environment. Along with high quality aftermarket speakers, amps and subs one can experience a concert hall level sound as a soundtrack to the world whizzing by as you drive. This long-time customer value proposition is greatly enhanced by hi-res music, DSP and the much-improved audio components available today. It will be even more enhanced as advanced digital audio technologies like Dolby Atmos can be enjoyed in cars.”
Farouk: “Apple CarPlay, blind spot detection and radar detectors helps with day-to-day practicality of life.
Gummadi: “Personally, I think wireless Carplay/Android Auto is the most useful product that we offer.”
Dealerscope: Where do you think car tech is going next?
Healey: “In general, vehicle onboard networks are gaining speed, processing power and the ability to sense and communicate with their external environment. These enhanced capabilities will inevitably lead to self-driving cars; in the meantime, they will provide an increasing immersive, information rich and connected environment for drivers and their passengers.”
Farouk: “Car tech advancements are above and beyond our imagination.”
Gummadi: “With prices of new vehicles going up, I think the demand for aftermarket products that integrate modern features in older vehicles will grow.”