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Man is a creature of innovation, always obsessed with finding new goals and getting better at achieving them. Man has endeavoured to find new means of transportation. Such attempts resulted in the making of the present day cars. The automobile was back in the 1800's. However, the roots of the invention could be traced back to the invention of the wheel about 4000 years ago, which has been hailed by many as one of the greatest invention of all time. In 1770, Nicholas Joseph Cugnot built an automobile by building a large stream-driven vehicle. In the early 1900s manufacturers around the world seriously started focusing their efforts in car production for the public. Henry Ford is one of the pioneers of this industry. The Ford Motor company has been manufacturing cars for the public since 1903. By using assembly line production and division of labour Ford company managed to manufacture cars that an everyday worker could afford. (Brenda Williams, 2009)
There were 590 million passenger cars worldwide in 2002.since then the number of cars sold has increased exponentially. Currently cars are the most popular and prefered mode of transportation. Roads have become an integral part of the infrastructure of any country. Popularity of Motor sports like Formula One and NASCAR has always soared since these sports began. Car manufacturers today are looking to produce hybrid cars which are cleaner, as well as searching for an alternative fuel technology to reduce the pollution to the environment. Companies are researching and investing into the prospect of producing cars which run on renewable resources as opposed to petroleum products or gasoline. The material which the car made of is also being innovated with fiberglass, carbon fiber and carbon nanotubes being looked up at as alternatives to keep the weight down. In conclusion, the industry has become one of the biggest industries in the world but it is still possessed by a desire to innovate as people are dreaming about the prospect of cars which will be able to fly in the future (Brenda Williams, 2009).
Gradual changes in the Auto Industry:
Today automobile companies and corporations are focusing and responding to the many sectors within this industry in a very effective way. The emerging fuel-consumption and air-quality demands are on the rise and need innovations. Diesel engines, catalytic converters, electronic fuel injection, turbochargers, high-strength steels, aerodynamic bodies, front wheel drive, and other such technologies are introduced bring down the maintenance cost. Industry developments in the late 1990's were mainly around joint international ventures among the strongest companies and global expansion into new markets. Globalization has made it difficult for the companies to identify an automobile as the product belonging to a country or company (vancouvereruv, 2010).
In the early 21st century, the trends of global manufacturing changed with arrival of new technological methods. Computerized auto designs are contributing to splendid results and the search for alternative fuels and more efficient automobile designs is ahot subject. In the auto industry, researchers make an analysis of consumers liking, consumer surveys, and buying patterns to determine what consumers want, and then suggest what kinds of cars to make. Before a new car is built, it must be researched, designed, and developed into a workable product. The designers work to shape these new ideas into tangible parts or products. Engineers adapt the existing parts for the new model and draw up new plans for a custom-built working example of a new design and so manufacturers also build a few prototypes before they set up an assembly line to build the new car. The Product planners monitor the process along the way and make sure that an approved new car program finishes on schedule and more over within its allowed budget. However, technology is still moving at a rapid pace and microelectronics seems be fully accommodated automobiles and may become as commonplace as radios once were. On-board systems are becoming available that enable drivers to find destinations with voice navigation or make phone calls using the computer. These computers can access the Global Positioning System or GPS and display maps to help drivers avoid congested freeways and find better routes to destinations (vancouvereruv, 2010).
A hybrid car is a passenger car driven by a new hybrid engine, which is any engine that combines two or more sources of power, mostly gasoline and electricity. There are primarily two kinds of gasoline-electric hybrid cars; the parallel hybrid, and the series hybrid. Both use gasoline-electric hybrid technology, but in very different ways (Hybrid-car, 2010).
In a parallel hybrid car, a gasoline engine and an electric motor work together to propel the car forward, while in a series hybrid, the gasoline engine either directly powers an electric motor that powers the vehicle, or charges batteries that will power the motor. Both types of hybrids also use a process called regenerative braking to store the kinetic energy generated by brake use in the batteries, which will in turn power the electric motor. Both parallel and series hybrids are built around small gasoline engines, and not only produce much less pollution than standard gasoline cars, but also produce much less power. Hybrids generally produces between 60-90 horsepower, while the average gasoline engine on the other hand probably produces about double that. To overcome this power gap, hybrid cars are constructed with ultra-lightweight materials like carbon fibre or aluminium. Hybrid cars are also designed to be more aerodynamic than most cars giving them excellent fuel economy and helps the environment by cutting down on pollution (Hybrid-car, 2010).
Flex- Fuel Vehicles:
Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) are designed to run on gasoline or a blend of up to 85% ethanol (E85). Except for a few engine and fuel system modifications, they are almost identical to gasoline-only models. FFVs have been in production since the 1980s, and dozens of models are currently available (Fueleconomy.gov, 2010).
FFVs experience minimal loss in performance when operating on E85. However, since a gallon of ethanol contains less energy than a gallon of gasoline. FFVs typically get about 20-30% fewer miles per gallon when fuelled with E85. Although gasoline has more energy and can deliver more performance much of it is wasted since complete combustion does not happen this add serious environmental concerns. However E85 gives less performance but the total % combustion is much higher than gasoline making it more environment friendly. (Fueleconomy.gov, 2010).
The electric car is powered by an electric motor instead of a conventional gasoline engine. The electric motor gets energy from the controller, which regulates the amount of power with the use of accelerator pedal. The electric car uses energy that is stored in its rechargeable batteries, which can be recharged by common household electricity. Unlike a hybrid car which is fuelled by both gasoline and a battery and motor to improve efficiency, an electric car is solely powered by electricity. Electric Vehicles have not been widely adopted because of their limited driving range before needing to be recharged, long recharging times, and a lack of intent by automakers to produce and market electric cars that have all the creature comforts of gas-powered cars. But recently this situation is changing. As the battery technology improves the storage capacity will also increase with further reductions in cost major automobile manufacturers are expected to begin production of a new generation of electric cars. Electric cars produce no carbon emissions, majorly affect dependency on oil, and are cheaper to operate. The process of producing the electricity moves the emissions further upstream to the utility companyâ€™s smokestack but even dirty electricity used in electric cars will reduce our collective carbon footprint (hybridcars, 2010).
Fuel Cell Cars:
Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) have the potential to drastically change our dependence on foreign oil and lower harmful emissions that cause climate change. FCVs run on hydrogen gas instead of gasoline and emit no carbon emission. These vehicles are right now in the early stages of their development, and there are several challenges that must be overcome before these vehicles will be competitive with conventional vehicles. However, the potential benefits of this technology out weight the challenges. (Fueleconomy.gov, 2010).
FCVs look just as the conventional vehicles from the outside, but inside they have technologically superior engineering not found on today's vehicles. The most prominent and notable difference is that the fuel cell stack that converts hydrogen gas stored on board with oxygen from the air into electricity to drive the electric motor that gives motion to the vehicle. (Fueleconomy.gov, 2010).
The market demand of the automobile industry has been changing along with time. The demands of the industry are never constant and hence the use of technology was necessary in order to meet those demands. The current market demands are:
1) Fuel Efficiency: Economies of developing countries like India and China have been on a path of rapid growth over the last 20 years. This has led to an increased demand for global transportation and since most mode of transportation use petroleum based resources there has been an increased demand towards efficient use of these products. At the same time in the wake of global warming alternate fuel technologies are been developed and are in demand throughout the globe. With the help of technology, companies have been use ethanol, butanol, biodiesel, Straight vegetable oil, biomass based diesel and gasoline, natural gas as fuel for cars. Turbochargers and Superchargers are technologies which have enabled engine downsizing and increasing the increasing the amount of fuel and air entering the cylinders. At the same time increasing the efficiency of internal combustion engines. Technology has also helped to reduce dependence on exhaustible sources of fuel by coming out with hybrid cars, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles etc. (Department of Commerce, 2010).
2) Price: Ever since Henry ford introduced the use assembly line in the mass production of cars the price of the car has been reducing. Auto giants like Toyota, Honda etc has made efficient and useful modification to this technology to further reduce time and cost. The use to fully automated assembly lines reduces the cost of manpower and increasing efficiency. Considerable efforts are also going into reducing vehicle weight through such things as advanced composites, high strength metals, and smaller more efficient electronics. These efforts further reduce the cost of the car an example for this would be Tata NANO which had a ex-showroom cost of S$3000 (Worldâ€™s Cheapest Car). It is only through use of efficient technology that such a low price can be achieved.
3) Features: Automobile companies are constantly striving to differentiate themselves from their competitors. They do so by providing features in the car which consumers might find intriguing. Cars these days are rolled out with features such as fully integrated iPod connectivity through one can play songs and control the same through the head unit. Also these days cars have In-Dash entertainment which can be used for playing movies, GPS etc. Companies are also adding computer especially designed for cars called Carputers. An example would be: Atlas CPC- 1200 which has 1.66 GHz processor, 120GB hard drive, 1GB memory, Windows vista operating system, and a 6.5 inch touch screen near the dashboard with features such as WiFi, HD radio Bluetooth connectivity CD/DVD rewriter, four USB ports and an external GPS antenna (Nickson C, 2009).
4) Safety and Reliability: One of the prime concerns when a consumer buys a car is safety and Reliability of the car. Technology now a day has helped us to make sure the vehicle which we drive is as safe as possible. Below are the few safety technologies been introduced in cars these days:
4.1 Tire-pressure monitoring: Sensors in the tyres which alert the driver if the tyre is relatively low. Also these daysâ€™ tubeless tyres permit a driver to drive with a flat tyre for atleast 50km.
4.2 Collision Mitigation: In the case of a possible accident, it adjusts the brakes and throttle, without any input from the driver, to stop the car (Tellem T, 2010).
4.3 Collision Warning: Warns the driver of a possible objects, vehicle or person in the blind spot while driving, parking or both (Tellem T, 2010).
4.4 Rollover Prevention: In the event of a possible rollover, it will apply brake and change the throttle so that the driver does not lose control (Tellem T, 2010).
4.5 Occupant sensitive: Cars are also being installed with technology such as sensing the size and weights of the passenger and adjusting the seat accordingly. It can also detect if someone is bending forward to pick something up and adjust the seat belt accordingly (Tellem T, 2010).
4.6 Emergency brake assistant: It identifies when a driver makes a panic stop (by sudden shift from gas to brake pedal) and will apply additional brake pressure to help shorten the stopping distance (Tellem T, 2010).
4.7 Rear view Camera: New-school tech involves a camera that works with the navigation system to provide a wide-open shot of what's happening behind you to help with parking or hooking up a trailer (Tellem T, 2010).
In order to become a market leader, the new entrant needs to address the current challenges being faced by the existing companies. By overcoming these shortcomings, the new entrant can capture a significant portion of the market. One of the major challenges being faced by the industry is the primary usage of fossil fuel. In order to overcome them Internet, telematics and other technological innovation would be needed. These instruments would be the future drivers for the global automobile industry. Also the auto makers need to go for electronic market for various components being used in order to reduce dependency on suppliers (Gopal C, 2010).
The invention of Hybrid vehicles and fuel cell technologies are considered to be breakthrough innovations as they are changing the entire structure of the industry. Any new entrant which can capitalise on these concepts can capture the market. Consumers these days are not willing to pay more for fuels instead they prefer paying for hybrid versions of the car which can solve the problem of petrol dependency once and for all. So the car manufacturer should alter the product and resources to launch the hybrid version of the car (Gopal C, 2010)
Fuel cell technologies were another revolutionary concept expected to change the entire landscape of the automobile industry. This technology is expected to be launched for commercial usage by 2020. The concept of fuel cell technology is similar to that of powering a space shuttle. It works on a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen which produces electricity which is used to run the motor (Gopal C, 2010).
Another concept which should be capitalised on is reducing the weight without reducing the size. As light weight vehicle help improve efficiency at the same time having space for energy absorption, this would help maintain the necessary levels of safety. Reducing weight lowers the amount of energy needed to move and stop the vehicle for equivalent performance. Each decrease allows further decreases elsewhere, for instance a lower vehicle weight requires smaller brakes allowing yet further decreases in the weight of brake components which further reduces weight (Department of Commerce, 2010).
Thus by using technology and taking advantage of the issues being faced by the industry, a new entrant can become a market leader in the highly competitive automobile industry.