For the vast majority of people working in the automotive industry, the year 2019 is about to be relegated to a black area of ​​memory.

According to an analysis by the Federation of the German Automobile Industry, global car sales will fall by 5% this year, the largest decline since the 2008 financial crisis. According to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, from January to November 2019, domestic automobile production and sales completed 23.038 million and 23.110 million vehicles, down 9% and 9.1% year-on-year, respectively. Among them, the sales of passenger cars from January to November fell by double digits year-on-year; the sales of new energy vehicles fell year-on-year for five consecutive months.

The cold wind in the new car sales market is not only gradually eroding the profitability of car companies, but also swallowing up the hope of “incremental market” lying down to make money. According to data, the proportion of first-time buyers in China’s passenger car market has dropped from 75.6% in 2011 to less than 60% in 2019, and even less than 50% two years later. In the 2019 third quarterly reports of 22 “complete vehicle” companies, 9 car companies’ net profit attributable to the parent company increased year-on-year, 13 car companies’ net profit attributable to the parent company declined year-on-year, and another 8 car companies’ net profit attributable to the parent company was negative. value.

This means that some simple and crude but once effective methods will not work. According to the forecast of the Federation of the German Automobile Industry, the downward trend of global car sales in 2020 will continue. The market will not leave time for companies to be discouraged. In the face of increasingly fierce market competition, Chinese companies must find new profit points as soon as possible and tap the next “new mine”.

Blockchain may become a breakthrough for enterprises to reduce costs and increase efficiency

Although the auto market is chilling, technology-enabled

The wave is still higher and higher, and emerging technologies such as blockchain, 5G communication, and artificial intelligence have become the “stepping stone” for enterprises to open up new fields.

On the afternoon of October 24th, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China conducted the 18th collective study, made a new position on the development of blockchain in my country, and emphasized that the integrated application of blockchain technology plays an important role in new technological innovation and industrial transformation. It is necessary to take the blockchain as an important breakthrough for independent innovation of core technologies, focus on conquering a number of key core technologies, and accelerate the development of blockchain technology and industrial innovation.

“Blockchain technology is actually still in the technical research stage, and it is still a long way from large-scale practical application.” Chen Chun, a professor at Zhejiang University and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said in an interview that in addition to technical bottlenecks, the district Another big issue that blockchain development needs to address is regulation.

“The biggest feature of blockchain technology is that it is ‘immutable’, so all data of the vehicle can be retained, which is a major benefit to all consumers of used cars and new cars.” On December 16, Chehaoduo Group CEO Yang Haoyong said in an interview with reporters that blockchain technology can make the quality of used cars more credible, especially for used car trading platforms that aim to develop overseas markets.

As a new application mode of computer technology such as data storage, point-to-point transmission, consensus mechanism, and encryption algorithm, blockchain was first regarded as the core component of the electronic currency Bitcoin. With Bitcoin serving as an inspiration for other applications, blockchain technology stands out for its decentralization, openness, independence, security, and more. Some experts have analyzed that blockchain technology is expected to be widely used in the fields of finance, public services, Internet of Things and logistics, and digital copyright.

For example, in blockchain technology, as long as 51% of all data nodes cannot be controlled, it is impossible to manipulate and modify network data arbitrarily. This makes the blockchain itself relatively secure, avoiding the phenomenon of artificially changing data. For used car buyers who attach great importance to the authenticity of vehicle information, this undoubtedly adds a reassuring “insurance”.

“Before we exported used cars to Russia, Russian buyers would ask, what about the file of this car? Why didn’t we know anything about this car before.” He admitted that the lack of reliable data has caused the export of used cars to overseas markets. “If we want to increase the scale of used car exports, we must use blockchain technology to solve this problem. Each car has a data record that everyone believes in, which will help us better develop in overseas markets. .”

In fact, blockchain technology is equally promising in the field of IoT and logistics. Blockchain can not only reduce logistics costs, trace the production and delivery process of items, but also improve the efficiency of supply chain management. Therefore, for automobile companies that want to “reduce costs and increase efficiency”, the logistics field is a promising application direction of blockchain.

On November 6, Volvo Cars announced in Gothenburg, Sweden that it has reached an agreement with battery suppliers, CATL, LG Chem, and blockchain technology companies to implement the traceability of cobalt used in the production of lithium-ion batteries from this year. This means that Volvo has become the first car manufacturer in the world to achieve global traceability of battery raw materials through the application of blockchain technology.

“We have always been committed to building an ethical and legal supply chain for raw materials,” said MarTIna Buchhauser, senior vice president of procurement at Volvo Car Group. With blockchain technology, Volvo can work closely with suppliers to ensure full traceability of the supply chain. , to minimize any associated risks. According to reports, Volvo uses blockchain technology to record the source, weight and size of cobalt and other attributes and the chain of custody, and to determine that the behavior of participants conforms to the OECD supply chain guidelines.

“This approach helps build trust among the participants in the supply chain.” In her view, blockchain technology creates a transparent and reliable network of shared data that can greatly improve the transparency of the raw material supply chain because Any changes in information about the source of raw materials will be monitored.

The production and parts supply of automobiles has long been one of the most international industries. The traceability of the raw materials and data used in the production, sale, etc. of each vehicle is one of the main challenges faced by automakers.

In May last year, four multinational auto companies, BMW, Ford, GM, and Renault, joined IBM, Accenture, Bosch technology component manufacturers, and 30 companies including blockchain companies Consensys and Hyperledger to jointly announce the establishment of the Mobile Open Blockchain Advocacy Association , to jointly develop vehicle blockchain technology. According to a survey, as many as 62% of auto executives believe that blockchain will become a disruptive force in the auto industry within three years.

“The underlying technology of the blockchain is not complicated. The key is that all relevant partners are willing to contribute data, because all data cannot be modified after being stored.” Yang Haoyong said that in the used car market, it is necessary for car companies and all offline Repair shops upload every recall record or repair data. “We are willing to put all our data out to support the creation of such a system, but it still needs relevant regulations or policies to promote it. After all, this is a major benefit for all consumers.”

At present, the application of blockchain technology has been extended to digital finance, Internet of Things, intelligent manufacturing, supply chain management, digital asset trading and other fields. Relevant enterprises in Europe, the United States, Japan and other countries are accelerating the development of blockchain technology.

As a new technology means, the application scenarios of blockchain are expected. On December 17, at the 3rd China Internet Finance Forum in 2019, Chen Liwu, deputy director of the Science and Technology Department of the People’s Bank of China, said that my country’s financial institutions have achieved some blockchain application results, but how to make good use of blockchain technology still faces challenges. some challenges.

He said that the rational use of blockchain technology will help reduce the cost of financial transactions and improve the efficiency of financial services. Therefore, strengthening the rational application of blockchain technology in the financial field will also feed back the real economy such as the auto industry, and release more consumption potential through auto financial products.

“Don’t buy a car” breeds new markets

The overall new car sales market is cold, but the field of travel services is giving birth to new opportunities. In addition to “reducing costs and increasing efficiency” through technological dividends, emerging markets such as used cars and travel services may be more attractive to companies. According to the reporter’s statistics, among the top 10 car companies by sales from January to November this year, 8 have officially entered the travel service market.

On the one hand, due to the rising cost of car use, new consumption concepts such as the sharing economy are widely accepted, and travel services such as carpooling and car sharing have become the “new favorites” of consumers, and the demand for travel services has grown rapidly; With the emergence of a new army, and the development of artificial intelligence, big data and driverless technology, more and more companies are finding that the growing mobility service market contains great opportunities.

Since the beginning of this year, the travel market has continued to be refined, and the market segments such as car time-sharing, high-end business travel, and RV travel have welcomed many new players. On the one hand, the outcome between Internet travel companies is uncertain. Didi, Meituan Taxi and Hello Travel, which is backed by Alibaba Group, continue to grab market share; on the other hand, there are WM Motor, Xiaopeng, Xinte in this melee. Such new players have entered the game, and there are also traditional car companies such as Toyota, Hyundai, China FAW, Dongfeng, and Changan.

Although companies are fighting fiercely for the travel service market, in the absence of breakthroughs in driverless and intelligent transportation technologies, online car-hailing “burning subsidies” seems to be the only way to quickly gather customers. And this approach is doomed to be unsustainable.

One of the solutions is to follow the trend of consumption upgrading, enter the high-end market and highlight brand differentiation. Not long ago, “Qing Miao Travel” led by FAW Group adopted this idea.

According to reports, as one of the important landing projects of the brand concept of “Chinese-style new noble refinement” of New Hongqi, “Qing Miao Travel” mainly focuses on government affairs, official business, and business travel scenarios, and provides travel services and management solutions for mid-to-high-end government and business users. Program. At present, the platform is the first to operate in Changchun, and will cover key first-tier cities in China within this year. The “Qing Miao Travel” app has been launched in major app stores, with more than 200,000 registered users.

According to data from iResearch, in 2018, the size of the enterprise travel service market alone has reached 165.6 billion yuan, and it is expected to reach 250 billion yuan in 2020. “At present, the travel demand in business scenarios is sufficient, but the requirements of enterprises for travel are getting higher and higher, not only to meet the requirements of enterprise management to reduce costs and increase efficiency, but also to optimize the ride experience of employees.” The relevant person in charge of the “Qimiao Travel” platform He told reporters that there are many competitors in the travel service market, which puts forward higher requirements for the platform to provide differentiated products and quality services in the segmented field.

According to him, in order to make enterprise travel management smarter, more efficient and easier, “Qingmiao Travel” integrates functions such as vehicle approval, budget management, itinerary management, bill tracking, and data analysis into the platform to realize online travel. manage. “Enterprise users only need to open a corporate account and configure it as needed, and their employees can complete online approval and use the car in the ‘Qimiao Travel’ App.” In terms of security, intelligent capacity scheduling, hot spot forecasting, real-time service monitoring, whole-process risk control and vehicle safety supervision have been realized.

Unmanned driving uses artificial intelligence + 5G “two legs”

Another solution is to “seek dividends from technological innovation”, enabling travel services to become part of smart transportation and even smart cities through the empowerment of artificial intelligence, big data and driverless technologies.

According to McKinsey’s forecast for automotive trends in 2030, the revenue of the mobility industry will increase by 30% due to new business models, equivalent to 1.5 trillion US dollars. Among them, the impact of driverless vehicles on the travel service market and even the whole society cannot be ignored.

Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick has bluntly stated that the ultimate operating cost of driverless cars is much cheaper than hiring human drivers, “The machine can work non-stop, and it will not require Pay raises.” He asserts that the companies that roll out driverless fleets first will soon be able to crowd out their human-driven counterparts.

Including traditional car companies such as FAW Hongqi and Internet travel companies such as Didi, a number of domestic companies have indicated that they will launch driverless cars for the travel service market. In Shougang Park, where the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee is located, driverless cars have already started trial operation.

“Autonomous vehicles may encounter various unexpected problems, so it is even more necessary to develop a multi-scenario universal autonomous driving navigation and intelligent driving decision-making system.” Yang Diange, director of the Science and Technology Winter Olympics special project and dean of the School of Vehicles and Transportation, Tsinghua University The professor said that L4-level autonomous driving will first be industrialized in special vehicles and in specific areas, such as buses, mines, ports, and unmanned driving in some specific parks.

The Prospective Industry Research Institute predicts that the global driverless car market will reach US$7.03 billion in 2021. It is worth mentioning that most driverless companies have relied on artificial intelligence technology before, and the arrival of the 5G era will undoubtedly make technology update faster and market competition more intense.

Yin Hao, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, predicted that 5G will boost China’s economic growth by 15.2 trillion yuan from 2021 to 2025. Among them, unmanned driving is regarded as one of the core application scenarios of 5G. If in the past, driverless cars mainly used AI to collect data and analyze intelligently, then 5G, featuring low latency, high reliability, ultra-high speed and high capacity, will allow driverless cars to “see more clearly” and achieve Vehicles are interconnected with all things such as roads, people, and vehicles.

Some analysts pointed out that China is vigorously developing new technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence and blockchain, and promoting driverless technology through the layout of the entire industry chain. This gives China an advantage in terms of policies and regulations, infrastructure, and construction costs. The big travel industry is not an island. Only by building technological advantages and cross-industry ecological chain barriers can we ensure the continuous and efficient supply of travel.

Although the online car-hailing platform also relies on “burning money subsidy” to grow, it has been proved that the marketing strategy without the support of technological innovation is unsustainable after all. In the minds of companies that want to seize the travel service market, new technologies such as blockchain, 5G, and driverless driving may be heavier than the sales of a certain new car. On these new tracks that have already started or are about to start, players from all walks of life should seize the opportunity.

Responsible editor: ct

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