If we talk about “smart products”, cars – along with smart watches – could be widely accepted by the mainstream public. News about the Google car or about the car that already made autonomously the Vigo-Madrid route are examples of this trend.

We met Celine Le Cotonnec in the TechCrunch event held in Beijing and we interviewed her in Shanghai. The DS flagship store was the venue chosen to talk about the digital transformation of the automotive industry and the role of China.

Autonomous cars and Open Innovation

In the next 5 years the car concept – as we know it now – will be different. Celine told us that currently there are four key technologies in the development of autonomous cars and the emergence of new digital services around the automotive industry.

  • Connectivity
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Sensors
  • Interactive technologies Human Machine Interface (HMI)

One of the challenges for the automotive industry is innovation. It is clear that it is not just about how to adapt the product to the new connected user’s demands, but how to adapt it into their production chain. It takes 5 to 7 years to plan a new car model, while new trends and demands come in few months; so it is a challenge to incorporate new technologies and services associated with cars without affecting their production chain.

With this idea in mind PSA Peugeot Citroën has developed Car Easy Apps, a platform for open innovation where car manufacturers and developers find a safe way to connect the car with external APIs.

The question here is: how could this affect the automotive industry? This new technology builds into every car and enables the development of applications based on internal (fuel consumption, for example) and external (traffic information, for example) information. With this technology it could be possible to adapt the car’s functionalities and services with the emerging needs in medium/long term without impact in the production chain. Today we are talking about opening the door to our rental car with an app, but who knows about what we would be talking in the next 5 years… Maybe we will be talking about sensors that would be able to detect a mistake in the driver and avoid an accident.

The Chinese driver: younger and more connected

We asked Celine why we did not hear about Car Easy Apps technology while we were in Europe. The answer was easy, they are launching it in China. The main reason is the Chinese driver is younger and more connected that the western one. The buyer of new cars in China is an average age of 35 years, while in Europe the average is over 50. In addition both the car and the technology they use are elements of recognition and social status.

Just one thought. Being the Chinese market more digital, more mobile and with less legacy than western countries… Are we prepared to lead the digital transformation?

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