3 Things That Have Changed In the Last 27 Years

3 Things That Have Changed In the Last 27 Years

Premcar will turn 27 soon. The automotive industry has experienced plenty of changes during that time. Here are three of them.

My team and I have given some thought to the mountain-shifting changes we’ve experienced and witnessed in the global automotive industry as Premcar inches closer to its 30th birthday.

When we started back in 1996, it would have been hard to imagine the advent of autonomous driving technologies and today’s ever-growing electric vehicle (EV) sales.

Back then, the only clearly visible path to the future centred around safety-related onboard vehicle technologies.

Features like driver’s airbags and anti-lock braking systems were the beacons of the auto industry’s future.

Many more such onboard advancements like Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) soon emerged.

And then, as time has revealed, these devices went on to communicate and work with each other to make driving safer and less onerous.

Their cooperative skills then opened the door to the possibility of autonomous driving abilities, and more.

But these haven’t been the biggest changes, despite their captivating functions and high profiles.

Arguably the biggest shifts are the ones that can’t always be seen.

They’ve sparked and propelled everything from the growth of relatively new OEM brands like Tesla, and they’ve even altered road safety statistics.


  1. Outsourcing by automotive OEMs:

For a long time many major carmakers made many of their own components in-house.

They still do, but not to the same extent, and not always in the same ways.

There are plenty of carmaker-owned OEM suppliers who provide assembly line components and systems, such as air-conditioning and seats. But there are battalions of specialist independent firms who focus on particular components and systems for new vehicles.

Parts from brands like Bosch, Brembo, Magna, and ZF-Friedrichshafen (and many others) hide in plain sight on new vehicles everywhere. It makes sense for carmakers to use them. Companies who specialise in a single component are more likely to make them with the necessary attributes of quality, safety, and cost (plus others.) It’s usually simpler and cheaper compared to in-house development and production.

But it’s not only components driving the automotive outsourcing boom.

Engineering and design services also play a big role these days.

Major carmakers commonly seek out vehicle development firms like Premcar to complete various pieces of a new vehicle’s design and engineering programs.

Chassis development, suspension / wheel / tyre packages, even entire vehicle platforms are the types of things that come our way from big car brands. It’s usually because their development teams run multiple new-model projects at the same time. This creates the need to reply on trusted external partners to help drive new vehicle programs through their internal product development ecosystems.

This is a regular part of the automaking world’s development processes today.

OEM carmakers have, to a large extent, become very effective integration and application specialists. They create world-class new cars by relying on their networks of specialist companies, and by blending their respective bodies of experience and understanding.


  1. Tyre technology:

This is a big one, bigger than many people probably know.

Modern cars can weigh anything from 1,500kg to well over 3,000kg. That’s a lot of in-motion mass trying to go in all different directions. And just four handprints hold it to the road.

I agree, it’s amazing.

Give some thought to the loads transmitted through tyres, especially in extreme conditions. Blistering heat intense enough to melt a bitumen road’s surface; snow; sharp gravel; standing water on freeways; the list goes on.

Modern tyres deliver levels of durability, grip, comfort, and wet weather performance not available 30 years ago. And they do it while offering decent service life: A lot of variables determine how long a modern tyre lasts but 40,000km or more is reasonable.

Today’s tyres are made from materials that are stronger and lighter. Run-flat tyres are more widely used. Lower rolling resistance eco tyres are now offered widely. Even tyre recycling now plays a bigger role.

Modern tyres have easily contributed to the effectiveness of onboard vehicle safety systems (such as vehicle stability control) to help avoid road accidents and minimise their impacts when they occur. Imagine how a current-day brake-assist system would work with less advanced tyres from 30 years ago.

By the way, here are three quick tyre tips:

Check your tyres’ pressure levels and condition each week; rotate your tyres regularly (so they last longer); and never skimp on new tyres (go for quality, even if it costs a bit more.)

Always remember: Just four handprints. That’s all you’ve got.

And modern tyre technology has advanced every millimetre of them.


  1. Safety technology:

This is arguably where the biggest changes have occurred in the last 30 years.

Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), also referred to as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), is possibly the stand-out development during this time. (You’re free to express your own view in the comments. I’m keen to hear them.)

Bosch and Mercedes-Benz were instrumental in bringing this life-saving tech to mass-produced vehicles. It was made mandatory in all new cars sold in Australia more than a decade ago. It’s importance is up there with the advent of the seat belt.

The honour roll for car safety tech from the last three decades is long. Pre-collision warning systems. Autonomous braking. Pedestrian protection in the form of active bonnets and above-engine crumple zones. Blind-spot information systems for drivers. The use of cameras, radar and Lidar technology to manage systems such as cruise control, and to show the driver views of their car not previously possible. Braking intervention when reversing. Multiple airbags in affordable cars. So much more.

Then there are all the incremental improvements to this tech, often achieved through gradual software and hardware enhancements.

Better anti-lock braking performance.

Better VSC performance.

Better active cruise control systems.

And so on.

This post isn’t going to cover (or do justice) to the global community of engineers, designers, technicians, chemists, physicists and more who are the heroes behind these ideas and devices – and their success.

Their consistent application of science has advanced our industry for longer than powered aircraft have flown and digital computing has existed.

Give them a quick thought next time you fasten your seatbelt.



They’re only three items from the long catalogue of changes we’ve experienced and witnessed in the last nearly-30 years.

There are so many others. Powertrain electrification, the number of cars on the road, and changing vehicle-type preferences (which, in Australia, have gradually migrated from Large E-segment three-box sedans to SUVs and dual-cab pick-ups). You can add exhaust emissions regulations, gearbox coupling systems, human-machine interface (HMI) solutions, in-car infotainment, and the use of recycled materials. And more.

What’s your top three?

Bernie Quinn – Engineering Director, Premcar Pty Ltd


About Premcar – Premcar Pty Ltd is a leading Australian vehicle engineering business that specialises in the automotive, defence and aerospace industries. For more than 25 years, global car-makers have made Premcar their go-to partner for the complete design, engineering and manufacture of niche-model new cars, full-scale new-vehicle development programs, and electric vehicle (EV) conversions and manufacturing. As the name behind more than 200,000 new cars and 55,000 new-vehicle engines, Premcar’s body of work is extensive and has delivered technical and sales success for major car brands from Europe, the USA, Japan, China and Australia. Visit premcar.com.


Follow Premcar on Instagram@premcaraustralia

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