Technology advances are propelling the automotive sector into a period of high innovative activity and tremendous business changes. CAR has captured the scope of new technology advances through the creation of technology roadmaps across three key areas: Intelligent Mobility Technology, Materials and Manufacturing Processes, and Light Duty Vehicle Propulsion. These technology roadmaps capture the major technological advances to both products and manufacturing processes throughout the automotive industry in order to provide a broad understanding of technology trends from current year to beyond 2030.

The CAR technology roadmaps summarize an extensive body of work of more than a hundred existing roadmaps published by consulting firms, independent think tanks, trade journals, and CAR’s own research, including emerging technology trends not covered in existing roadmaps.  CAR synthesized and validated these roadmaps with a group of 25 automotive technology experts. Overall, there is great consensus on the general direction of technological advancement in each of the sections; however, we found a large degree of uncertainty as to specific timeframes.


Intelligent Mobility Technology
  • Over the past 5-10 years the industry has demonstrated increased advancement in four key technologies: Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Vehicle Automation, Vehicle Connectivity, and New Mobility Services. Despite these advancements, challenges remain.
  • Between 2015 and 2020, vehicles up to Level 4 driving automation will be introduced into the market.
  • Transition from high driving automation to fully automated vehicles (Level 5) will take longer than the time to reach previous levels.
  • Advancing to fully automated vehicles requires not only continuing technology advancement, but also overcoming challenges posed by safety regulations, policy, and consumer acceptance.
  • Level 5 fully automated vehicles is projected to be introduced into the market by roughly 2030, about ten years after Level 4 vehicles first become available.


Intelligent Mobility Technologies: Global General Evolution Timeline, 1990 to beyond 2040
Materials and Manufacturing
  • The trend of new materials and manufacturing processes is expected to accelerate due in part to regulatory pressure on fuel economy, emissions, and safety requirements.
  • Commonly used materials such as mild and even high strength low alloy steel are projected to fall significantly by 2040 while other materials will gain share in the U.S. fleet—including aluminum 5000/6000and Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP).
  • While the percent of market share will differ among materials, future light vehicles will be increasingly comprised of mixed-materials.
  • Forming and joining new materials and an increasingly complex mixture of materials remains a significant challenge for the automotive industry.
Light Duty Vehicle Propulsion
  • Light duty vehicle propulsion systems have rapidly progressed in part due to increasingly stringent emission and fuel economy regulations.
  • ICEs will continue to dominate the market with over 70 percent share through 2025.
  • Manufacturers are investing in a broad portfolio of different propulsion technologies for the next several years, such as Internal Combustion Engines (ICE), Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV), Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV), Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEV), and Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV).
  • Regulations may drive alternative propulsion technology implementation, but consumer acceptance may be the most daunting and ultimately drives the market success of these technologies.
  • Today’s ICE, even with additional technology and content, remains a difficult cost, performance, and utility target to beat.

Across each technology area, consumer acceptance, cost reduction and uncertainty, cross-sector communication, and policy and regulation are clear factors potentially influencing the future technology pathways. Consumer acceptance commonly determines success, more than regulators or technology advancements. Governments can nudge consumers along a certain path, but in the end, consumers concerns for safety, privacy and security issues, environmental impacts, and cost are most powerful.

The path of technology development and the pace of cost reductions are uncertain. Relative cost competitiveness can be another influential factor for example with Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing, Industry 4.0, and New Mobility Business Models.

Increased cross-sector communication and communication between automakers and their suppliers, as well as within the supply chain is required to effectively incorporate technology changes. As technology advances, cross-industry collaboration among the automotive industry as well as other industries will significantly increase due to the sophistication of technologies. Finally, while uncertainty in public policy or the regulatory environment can be a barrier to technology advancement, long-term agreements on the regulatory future can also act as a technology enabler.

Read more in the CAR study: Technology Roadmaps: Intelligent Mobility Technology; Materials and Manufacturing Processes; and Light Duty Vehicle Propulsion