How data analytics is improving the automotive industry

Ever since Karl Benz invented the first car in 1886, the automotive industry has seen a significant boom in business, to say the least. 

From the first car to the introduction of the Ford Model T, the first mass-market car, to the introduction of the Tesla Roadster, the first all-electric sports car, the growth of the automotive industry has been astronomical.

In the last 140 years, the industry has improved significantly with contributions from visionaries like Gottlieb Daimler, Ferdinand Porsche, Ferruccio Lamborghini, Enzo Ferrari, Kiichiro Toyoda, Henry Ford, and most recently, Elon Musk.

Vehicles have now become very intertwined with our lifestyle and culture.

Along the way, the industry has changed how it has operated. While it once relied heavily on human intervention and intelligence, it now relies on more technology-backed tools to make decisions on design, manufacturing, marketing and sales.

One such widely-used tool is data analytics.

Data analytics is improving automotive design

Do you remember the cars of the late 1980s and the early 1990s? 

This period is widely considered to be the dark age of automobile design, because of the soap box-like design of the vehicles from that era.

Modern automobiles, however, have ditched these boxy designs in favour of flowing lines and aggressive body panels.

These elements not only improve the look of the vehicle but also improve key performance metrics like fuel efficiency (battery efficiency in electric vehicles), drag, braking performance and speed. 

Fuel efficiency or battery efficiency, for example, relies heavily on how much drag the vehicle experiences. The higher the drag, the lower the efficiency. 

The flowing design of modern vehicles also improves their aerodynamics, reducing drag, which results in better fuel efficiency.

These design improvements are thanks to data analytics, which helps engineers and designers gain insight into how their designs are impacting the overall performance of the vehicle.

Data analytics can also help engineers and designers create 3D models of the vehicle and run computer simulations based on real-world conditions to measure these metrics.

By leveraging the power of data analytics in the design process, manufacturers can reduce research and development costs and prototyping costs to a significant extent.

Data analytics is optimising production lines

Early automotive production relied heavily on manual labour. Even today, certain artisan automotive manufactures use a very high percentage of manual labour in their production lines. Manual labour is slow and inefficient, however.

In response to this, mass markets brands like Toyota and Volkswagen have shifted to a mostly automated production line with minimal human intervention, which is fast, reliable and more efficient than manual production lines.

Volkswagen, for example, produced close to nine million vehicles in 2020 thanks to their optimised production line.

These production lines depend on data analytics to function efficiently and smoothly. Sensors and cameras placed in the production line collect a vast amount of data, which is then processed by data analytics tools and fed into the pieces of equipment that run the production lines. 

Without data analytics, the equipment that supports automated production will become obsolete.

Analytics is helping us reduce accidents and fatalities

According to recent statistics, fatalities as a result of automotive accidents have decreased from 3,798 in 1970 to 1,195 in 2019 in Australia alone.

The decrease in fatalities is largely thanks to better road safety regulations and better safety standards implemented in modern automobiles.

Automotive manufactures are now including more than 50 sensors in their vehicles to collect data from the vehicle and its surroundings, which can then be analysed and used in lifesaving technologies like collision detection, airbag deployment, and driver eye-tracking.

Without big data analytics, this kind of technology would not be as effective as it is now.

Data analytics is reshaping the automotive industry

Automobiles are a vital part of modern society, given their role in supporting large-scale, life-changing mobility. The industry has constantly made improvements to make transportation better, and data analytics has helped them make these advancements.

With data analytics, automakers are creating faster, safer, and more reliable vehicles. This will only get better in the future.

Cameron Lawson

Cameron Lawson

Highly experienced SAS and Development Operations consultant and strategist

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