epresent an existential threat or an opportunity
tirely new universe of consumer needs?
Fast forward to 2019, when owning, operating and/or
riding in a vehicle has morphed into a more dynamic and
technologically advanced construct known as “mobility.”
Fast-evolving consumer preferences, combined with giant
leaps in vehicle intelligence, are quickly transforming the
mobility marketplace. A growing number of consumers,
In the face of all of this change, one might wonder what
will happen to the thousands of businesses—vehicle OEMs,
components suppliers and other key partners—that helped
make the automobile an integral part of global society. Does
“smart mobility” represent an existential threat or an opportunity
to address an entirely new universe of consumer needs?
For automotive coatings suppliers, the mobility revolution
represents a fascinating opportunity to contribute to a vibrant,
fully integrated transportation system that will provide
significantly greater convenience and utility to millions of
users. The possibilities are fascinating, with each requiring new
layers of imagination and innovation.
The advent of new mobility platforms—autonomous,
connected, electric and shared—will change not only
consumers’ relationship with vehicles, but also the way vehicles
themselves will interact with their driving environments,
whether in urban settings, parking garages, tunnels or lonely
stretches of rural highway.
Each platform also will rely on hundreds, if not thousands,
of enabling technologies, with advanced coatings being
particularly pervasive and important. From an R&D
perspective, PPG assigns these opportunities to three broad
categories: outside the vehicle, such as the exterior finish; inside
coatings that address passenger comfort, convenience and
utility; and coatings that will play important roles within the
vehicle’s powertrain and electronics infrastructure.
As an example of an enabling technology located outside the
vehicle, PPG is developing a wide range of colors and styles
that will meet the reflectivity requirements of the LiDAR and
radar systems used in autonomous vehicles. LiDAR requires
the right level of reflectivity from detected surfaces—whether
an oncoming vehicle, bridge abutment or other obstacle—to
provide a continuous stream of highly detailed imagery to the
autonomous driving system. Dark colors, for example, can be
significantly less reflective than lighter ones. To address this,
chemists are working on next-generation topcoat technologies
that will allow for more intense reflectivity of darker colors,
even at varying angles.
Autonomous vehicles also must be able to sense their
surrounding environment in all driving environments,
An associate at PPG’s Coatings Innovation Center in Allison Park, PA,
prepares a lithium ion coin cell for testing in a controlled environment.