The future of automobiles: USA vs Europe, new usage scenarios and their effects on the on-board electrical system 

Interview with Markus Mußner about his work at MD, his vision for the car of 2050, the differences between USA and Europe, and what developments suppliers need to be ready for.

Tech Talk is a series of interviews that introduce you to some inspiring personalities within and outside of MD and the world of technology, innovation, and more.

In this issue, we sat down with Markus Mußner, Senior Manager for Application Engineering at MD. We talked about his work at MD, his personal vision for the car of 2050, different developments in the USA and Europe and their effects on electrical systems, as well as the role of MD ELEKTRONIK.

Markus, please tell us about yourself. Both personally and professionally.

After studying electrical engineering, I have now been at MD since 2007.

During this time, I have gathered a lot of experience in different areas and actively contributed to the growth of our company. Currently, I am responsible for application engineering on behalf of our international customers. I enjoy spending my free time in the mountains or playing football. 

What is your personal vision for a typical car in 2050?

In 2050, a typical new vehicle will be much more than just a mode of transport; it will represent a highly integrated, intelligent ecosystem. The interior will be revolutionized by advanced technologies, such as holographic displays and interactive 3D surfaces. These systems will not only communicate with personal devices, but also with urban infrastructure and other vehicles.

Autonomous driving will be fully developed by then. Vehicles will be able to move smoothly and safely through complex urban and rural environments. Vehicles will be able to make autonomous decisions to maximize the safety and comfort of passengers. AI systems will not only adapt the driving style, but predictively anticipate maintenance needs and autonomously schedule service appointments. Emotion recognition technology and biometric sensors will monitor the mood and wellbeing of passengers, and adapt the driving experience accordingly, whether it’s by adjusting the interior lighting or temperature, or even suggesting a different, more scenic route for a more enjoyable journey.

Cars will be fully integrated into everyday life. They will serve as mobile offices, entertainment spaces or sleeping places, with a dynamically convertible interior. Vehicles will also play a key role in sustainable cities, in that they will be integrated in a networked energy and traffic system that promotes efficient, environmentally friendly mobility.

You have spent quite some time working for MD in the USA. In your opinion, what will be the biggest differences between the USA and Europe in 2050, in terms of cars and road transport in general?

Less strict rules for fully autonomous driving, greater distances, a stronger focus on individual transport and a preference for larger vehicles will mean that road transport and the typical car in the USA will differ considerably from their European counterparts in 2050. The USA is following a less restrictive, more innovation-friendly approach that facilitates the development and testing of autonomous vehicles. Currently, the existing safety standards, which were designed for conventional, human-controlled vehicles, are being revised to fully utilize the benefits of autonomous driving. 45 of the 50 US states have already enacted their own laws concerning autonomous vehicles, with states such as Michigan, California and Arizona taking the lead. In contrast, Europe is characterized by strict regulations that could limit innovation, despite certain ADAS functions being mandatory for all new vehicles on the EU market as of mid-2022. When it comes to vehicle preferences, the USA is dominated by larger vehicles designed for individual transport, while Europe leans more towards carsharing and compact vehicles for city driving. Roomier vehicles offer more space for sleeping, entertainment or the “portable office”, to make long journeys as comfortable and productive as possible.

What are the consequences of these developments, especially for on-board system suppliers?

Autonomous driving requires numerous innovations in the vehicle, such as more and more sensors, as well as cameras, radar, LiDAR, interior camera systems, etc.

For suppliers in this field, this means that the entire on-board electrical system, including data cables, needs to be restructured and further developed. Due to rising complexity and the increase in safety-related applications, this is no longer achievable using current systems.

The basis for this are data cables that can provide ever higher transfer rates, don’t take up too much installation space, and meet the highest quality standards. It is also essential that they are available in sufficient quantities. Suppliers therefore need to adapt their technologies and production processes to meet the new requirements, e.g. traceability of parts.

What is MD doing to optimally prepare for these future challenges?

MD relies heavily on automated and semi- automated assembly on machines developed and built in house. This has enabled steady progress in the area of production speed, miniaturization and traceability. In addition, MD is developing its own products to overcome the challenges of the future with individual solutions. This holistic approach ensures that MD is driving tomorrow’s developments today, in all aspects of data transfer within automobiles.

New usage scenarios, new technologies – the automotive future challenges suppliers

Autonomous driving will enable whole new usage scenarios: innovations such as holographic displays and 3D surfaces, which communicate with both personal devices and urban infrastructure, are just a few examples of this. Demand for data cables that enable this technology will rise. Vehicles in the USA, in particular, will play a pioneering role. In future, they will differ from European vehicles in that they will continue to focus on individual transport, large vehicles, and a more innovation-friendly approach to autonomous driving in general. These developments will require suppliers to restructure and further develop their technologies and production methods to meet the new requirements. As a pioneer in this field, MD ELEKTRONIK is not only developing new products, but is already developing and building the machines for automated cable assembly, which will be essential for the on-board electrical system of the future.

High-performing, extremely reliable data connections are the backbone of automotive road transport. MD ELEKTRONIK is at the forefront of these technologies and leading the way with an international network of experts.

Contact MD now and find out more about the latest innovations.

Contact us

Markus Mußner

Markus Mußner is Senior Manager of Application Engineering for MD's international customers. With more than 15 years’ professional experience and almost two years working in the USA, he is an expert in his field. His mission is to work with customers and partners to create innovative solutions and successfully master complex challenges within a constantly evolving technological landscape. In doing so, he values his broad-ranging contact with customers and suppliers, and working together in an international team.