Believe it or not, automotive is the second most data-driven industry in the world. Thanks to the growing IoT and mobile technology, manufacturers are able to collect tons of information about drivers, their destinations, the routes they’re taking, traffic patterns, and even predict when maintenance — more than just an oil change — will be required. And that’s just on the driver side! The following are the top digital transformation in automotive for 2020.

Always Connected

Now more than ever, customers want a seamless connectivity experience. In 2020 and beyond, that means not just connection via mobile phone, home, and office, but in their vehicles, as well. Drivers can stay connected to their favorite apps, music, and entertainment. Kids can stay connected to their favorite games or even get a jump on homework on the way back from school. We’ve seen car-equipped WiFi in the past, but moving into the 2020s, we’ll see it become a staple of every new car purchase, rather than an upgrade.

Autonomous Vehicles Edge Closer

Level 4 fully autonomous vehicles have continued to be the holy grail and with the likes of Waymo, Uber, Tesla and plenty of other companies showing off their capabilities in the space, there is still a ways to go before the average consumer is going to buy their own fully autonomous vehicle and sip a latte while plugging away on their laptop on their way to work. However, the revolution in this space will be visible in the coming year and we will get a big dose of this at CES coming straight out of the new year. I expect a barrage of new announcements to come at CES to piggy back on NVIDIA’s recent announcement around its DRIVE platform having hit the wire this week. Chipmakers, Auto makers and consumers rejoice, 2020 will be another year of big news for autonomous vehicle development.

Better Customer Experience in the Car

In the past, the navigation and voice control systems in most cars have been clunky. We all have experienced the “Please Say a Command” voice over which takes you about 5 minutes to get your car to do what you actually want it to do. Thankfully, companies are improving the customer experience by using systems like Apple Car Play that will mirror what’s on your iPhone creating a seamless transition between phone and car. If you’re an Apple lover and haven’t experienced car play, I definitely recommend you look it up. You’ll be sold.

Shorter Model Cycles

The pressure to digitize is about more than adding new digital features to every vehicle. It also means that the average car lifecycle will be modeling technology’s lifecycle, with drivers trading up when new technology becomes available. That means the auto industry will see model cycles move from the previous average of 5 to 8 years to 1 to 2 years. Does that mean car makers will be selling more cars? That drivers will need to find new ways to finance their vehicles? That short-term leases (rather than long-term purchases) will become the new normal? It’s completely possible, and manufacturers will need to bend with the change.

Remote Updates

Imagine if you didn’t need to stop into your local mechanic shop every time the check-engine light in your car turned on. Moving forward, you won’t have to, thanks to always-on connectivity. Using remote access, manufacturers will be able to provide technology updates, safety updates, recall information, etc., like magic—without you ever needing to set foot in a repair location.

Predictive Maintenance

Back in the day, I thought it was pretty exciting when my car would alert me that it was due for an oil change. Being able to keep track of time and mileage seemed like a pretty big deal back then. Today, cars are able to pull multitudes of data and send it up to the cloud for processing, alerting drivers of potential issues they may be about to experience in the future, from engine trouble to faulty brakes, or a taillight that’s about to burn out. Predictive maintenance has proven such a valuable feature that it’s actually led to a 30% increase in uptime from truck drivers, for instance—predicting failures 30 days in advance with a shocking 90 percent accuracy. The tow trucks of the future may want to find a new business model.


How many of us have synced our smart phones in a recent rental car without a second thought about what might happen to our data once we’re connected? With so much data being collected from drivers at any given time, data security needs to be a major priority for both manufacturers and drivers alike. Unfortunately, research shows most drivers don’t have any idea that many parts of their vehicles—including the engine, breaks, steering, and key fob—are hackable. If hackers can use printers to access data, what do you think the odds are that they’ll use your car too? Moving forward, we’ll be seeing larger public education campaigns regarding the safety of automotive connectivity, along with a greater push for manufacturers to make data security a priority.

Personalized Driving Experience 

I remember when it was a big deal with both my spouse and I—as well as our kids in the back seat—could all determine the temperature we’d like to have in our respective area of the car. But thanks to AI and the Internet of Things, the car driving experience is about to become far more personal. Imagine the car adjusting the seat, mirror, radio, and air conditioning each time a new driver enters. Imagine AI that can read your mood and alert you when you seem to be getting sleepy or distracted. It’s something that promises to make your car more comfortable—and the road safer, as well.

Improved Car-Buying Experience 

Most of us agree it’s pretty stressful to buy a new car. You need to find the model you want—haggle the price—find a solid loan—all while doing the legwork to ensure you’re not spending your money on a lemon. For most of us, this process can take hours—not the most enjoyable way to spend our time. Luckily, new technologies are making the buying process easier. Toyota’s augmented reality system requires no app and allows users to get to know certain car models without ever setting foot in a showroom. Audi’s VR experience allows users to configure car models of the future—technology that led to an increase in car sales of 60-70% in their pilot show room. Even better, virtual showrooms allow dealers to save money by reducing the amount of space they need to hold all of the models of cars that are available. It’s a win-win overall.

As in all industries, digital transformation trend in automotive are shaking things up moving into 2020 and beyond. By and large, these changes will be huge improvements for drivers, making time in the car safer and more enjoyable for the long haul.