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Where it all began

Ever since the beginning, we’ve thrived on helping the automotive industry tackle big issues. Starting in the 1990s, the main challenge was vehicle theft, which at one point represented 20% of all crime. Insurance premiums shot up and many insurers stopped covering certain high-risk vehicles, forcing car makers to take the problem seriously.

David Bell, Gareth Jones and David McClure had worked at various major car makers during this time and recognised that traditional engineering methods were not enough. These three engineers began thinking outside of the box: visiting prisons to interview convicted car thieves and reverse-engineering commonly-used theft tools to identify countermeasures. Seeing their research, major OEMs contacted them for support. They founded SBD Automotive in 1997 (at that time Secured by Design) to help apply these lessons.

Soon after, SBD Automotive signed Toyota as its first client, and within two years we had helped them win multiple industry awards for vehicle security.

We’ve been on the hunt for new challenges ever since – from helping cars become more connected, to deploying life-saving driver assistance systems, our philosophy has remained the same: big challenges need fresh, independent, innovative thinking.


David Bell and Gareth Jones start a 'skunkworks' vehicle security project in David's garage. 


The company that will become SBD Automotive is registered as Secured By Design


Toyota and SBD Automotive win award for most advanced security system 


Our first off-the-shelf report is published - only available in paper edition or CD Rom!


New Telematics group created to expand our areas of expertise into the rapidly emerging connected car market


We help Toyota GB launch the UK's first implementation of traffic information in cars over RDS TMC


Our first office outside of the UK opens in Japan, bringing us closer to key clients and marking a major turning point


We publish the first edition of our ground-breaking Connected Car Guide, turning "I'll check 526" into an industry phrase


We develop the first public 'Relay Attack tool', helping car makers understand the vulnerabilities of smart keys


We begin our 'tour of emerging markets' on behalf of clients, travelling to over 20 countries and driving thousands of miles to help explore consumer needs in new regions


We co-launch the Connected Car Forum with the GSMA to bring together OEMs and telecom operators, reducing barriers to implementation & promoted best practice to successfully connect nearly every car worldwide


We set up our ADAS/Autonomous vehicle practice as the industry begins to explore the potential for safer and more convenient vehicles 


Our new UX practice launches with groundbreaking consumer focus groups and expert testing in Detroit, USA. Our key findings are presented at major automotive conferences globally: "More does not equal better" 


We bring onboard Jeffrey Hannah from General Motors to open and lead our new N. America office, exposing SBD Automotive to a whole new set of clients and projects


Abhishek Visveswaran moves to Bengaluru to set up our first office in India, helping us rapidly grow our research, data and software capabilities


Victor Zhang moves to Shanghai to set up our first China office and we welcome Andrea Sroczynski as Managing Director of our new office in Germany - we now provide coverage across every major automotive hub


Our team wins the Queens Award for Enterprise for our achievements in International Trade


We co-found the Experiences Per Mile Advisory Council with HARMAN to promote the need for a more UX-centric approach to vehicle experiences (now with 25+ members)


SBD Automotive is named Company of the Year by the MK Business Awards


Collaboration with Nissan and Hitachi as part of ServCity project to start developing London's first Robotaxi


The international standard for security and data privacy, ISO 27001, is awarded to SBD Automotive, demonstrating our ability to securely manage sensitive client data 


Successful transition of SBD Automotive from company founders and investors to Leadership Team to remain 100% independent


We celebrate 25 years of SBD Automotive and look forward to many more...

Our people

We are our people -We are a united team working together towards a common purpose: helping our clients and our industry transform mobility.

What makes us unique?

Our expertise

Our research team and consultants are not generalists - we recruit from leading automotive and mobility companies where they gained valuable hands-on experience developing cutting-edge solutions which allows them to interpret and shape the future of our industry.

Our independence

We are employee-owned - this allows us to be unbiased, objective and to put our team and clients first, and enables our way of thinking.

Our insights

We balance vision with pragmatism - the insights we deliver are always data-driven, independent, and actionable.

Our heritage

Each day we build on our history - for 25 years, we've worked with OEMs, suppliers, investors and governments to help them successfully navigate increasingly complex automotive technologies and services.

Delivering confidence through clarity, insight and vision

A global team of automotive researchers and consultants. For 25 years, our independent data, research and consulting has helped OEMs, suppliers, investors and governments develop smart, safe and sustainable mobility, while delivering confidence through clarity, insight and vision.

SBD Automotive

Who We Are

Company introduction and our history


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