The Durability of Automobility: How Automotive Tech Benefits from High-Tech Layoffs

         2022 has been a particularly tumultuous year in the global economy. Across the world, the Covid-19 pandemic drags on, and geopolitical disturbances fundamentally change the outlook of many national governments and international corporations. This year economists and analysts warn of a coming recession, wiping post lockdown gains from the major stock indexes in the US, Asia, and Europe. Major tech companies are feeling the squeeze, and corporations like Twitter and Meta have felt significant pressure and seen massive layoffs and suffering stock prices. Peculiarly, a fissure has formed between high tech and the world of automakers and automobility. While companies like Meta struggle, automakers and rental car companies continue to grow. Many in the industry can’t help but speculate on the ways in which the automobility sector can weather the storm facing high tech. However, are they asking the wrong question?

In the last 10 years or so, high tech has evolved into a sort of weathervane for indicating the health of the economy. Companies such as Apple, Google, Tesla, and Microsoft seem to serve as indicators for periods of economic growth and retraction, and their success is often tied to the general health of the global economy. Automakers were similarly prominent, having held these positions of power for decades. Over the past decade or two, the automotive and high tech spaces have become increasingly intertwined, birthing automobility and the high tech automotive sector. Crossing over between two formerly distinct industries, how does the automotive tech sector react, and potentially benefit from, the recent downturn in high-tech? This is a more intriguing and productive question for the automobility sector to ask, having serious implications for the future of automobility and the health of the sector despite a high-tech economic recession,

         Last month, billionaire Elon Musk took over Twitter in a deal valued at $44 billion and since then, the company has entered a spiral of layoffs and mass controversy. As of this past week, only 12 percent of Twitter’s pre takeover staff remain employed by the firm. Thousands of white collar employees have been laid off, from coders to top executives. Driven by Elon Musk’s controversial policies and firebrand rhetoric, more still have quit of their own volition, opting to move on to other jobs in the sector. Suddenly, thousands of high-tech employees have found themselves out of work, and where do they go? Meta, headed by Mark Zuckerberg, and the controlling interest in Facebook, Instagram, and the Metaverse virtual reality service, has suffered in kind. The company has experienced an enormous devaluation, with stock prices plunging over 65% from their peak in 2021. Going beyond controversial figures like Musk and Zuckerbeg, Marketwatch reports that Amazon, HP, and Google are expecting to make cuts over the next few years, and that there were nearly 60,000 tech layoffs in 2022, a comparable number to statistics from the Great Recession. Where do all these people go?

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/tech-layoffs

         To put it simply, there is a growing supply of experienced high-tech employees waiting to be hired. This is an opportunity for OEMs and automotive tech companies to fill the roles many of them stated they would be adding as many OEMs announced in the past two years that their strategic intent was to transform to high tech companies creating Software Defined Vehicles.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/dalebuss/2022/11/30/auto-industry-leads-in-digital-transformation-investments/?sh=3759147f4e90

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The OEMs that made these announcements were faced with a significant challenge of finding qualified employees. Speaking to broad trends in high-tech, especially if the fears of recession come true, and automobility companies and OEMs continue to be resilient to economic challenges, a mass hiring of qualified high-tech employees may not just be on the horizon but may be achievable sooner than expected. The automotive technology and automobility sectors have exploded hand in hand with self-driving vehicles, EVs, battery development, and a myriad of other emerging and increasingly popular technologies. With over 2200 exhibitors from across the world and a  crowd expected to total over 100,000 people at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show in January, the automobility sector needs to come prepared and in full force, ready to showcase their resilience to recession and an openness to taking advantage of where high-tech is faltering.

https://www.ces.tech/News/Press-Releases/CES-Press-Release.aspx?NodeID=954077ec-31f0-4889-b4ec-b6af7a3ad217

As the conditions of the economy and market continue to fluctuate and evolve, the ball is now in the court of the automotive industry and the automobility companies to take advantage of growth and profitability while other sectors are more vulnerable. EVs, autonomous drive, P2P carshare, battery companies, and a variety of other segments of automotive technology are growing at an explosive pace, with Forbes reporting that the market share for EVs more than doubled from 2.7% in Q2 of 2021 to 5.6% of Q2 in 2022. Looking to the future, these trends are expected to only increase, and all of the surrounding technological development will need to keep pace with public demand and government regulations.

To answer the questions stated earlier, automotive technology companies need to be ready to jump on opportunities created by high-tech’s recent struggles and come out of the tumultuous conditions of the last couple years optimistic and ready to compete in one of the world’s most promising industries.

And if you’d like help in finding the best tech talent, you can work with a specialized AutoMobility recruiting provider like Avant Future Mobility. They place hundreds of battery engineers, data scientists, software developers, and AI/ML experts into automotive companies large and small. Maybe they can help you too!

https://www.linkedin.com/company/avantfuturemobility/?originalSubdomain=uk

You can subscribe to the AutoMobility Roadmap for free and continue to follow the dynamic and changing automotive mobility world. If you’d like to engage directly with the team at AutoMobility Advisors, visit our website here or contact us via Linked In.

ATSC 3.0 Broadcast Spectrum Webinar Series – No. 2

Automotive use of a Broadcast/Multicast Wireless Network to enhance 4G and 5G

Automotive use of a Broadcast/Multicast Wireless Network to enhance 4G and 5G

This webinar invites the automotive industry to take advantage of the next generation of IP based (Internet compatible) broadcast spectrum now being implemented at TV stations across the US and other countries (India, Brazil, Jamaica, and Korea). 
This spectrum has a multicast (one to many) propagation pattern and is transmitted from tall towers, where each tower typically covers a 100-mile diameter region at a time. Because this spectrum is IP based it can be used as a supplement to enhance the efficiencies of 4 and 5G networks.   
The goal of this three-part webinar series is to start an honest discussion about the benefits and real-world challenges of using ATSC 3.0 broadcast spectrum as a wireless data network to supplement 4 and 5G network data flow to Connected Vehicles.  
We worked hard to balance our speakers between broadcast and automotive experts so both perspectives will be well represented. Webinar #1 has been completed and can be viewed on demand.

Webinar No. 2: Watch on Demand

Top 3 Connected Vehicle Applications a Multicast Wireless (ATSC 3.0) Network can make More Efficient

1) Constant RTK geolocation

Satellite delivery of centimeter (cm) accurate geolocation to Connected Vehicles requires error correction, often delivered through a LTE or 5G network which can get costly. The blanket coverage of a Broadcast/Multicast network could be much more efficient but what are the practicalities?

2) OTA software updates

Broadcast/Multicast could logically be a more cost-effective way to wirelessly deliver OTA firmware and software updates to CVs. What are the challenges of getting hardware needed to make this work? What are the software challenges after that?

3) Infotainment

A Broadcast/Multicast data network has the same propagation characteristics as traditional broadcast TV. A single broadcast tower can have a coverage diameter of 100 miles. How can this help in-car entertainment?

Learn more and visit www.atsc3advocate.com

#automotive #technology #webinar #infrastructure #telecom #media #ev #connectedvehicles #autotech #automobilityadvisors

ATSC 3.0 Broadcast Spectrum Webinar Series – No. 1

Automotive use of a Broadcast/Multicast Wireless Network to enhance 4G and 5G

Automotive use of a Broadcast/Multicast Wireless Network to enhance 4G and 5G

This webinar invites the automotive industry to take advantage of the next generation of IP based (Internet compatible) broadcast spectrum now being implemented at TV stations across the US and other countries (India, Brazil, Jamaica, and Korea). 
This spectrum has a multicast (one to many) propagation pattern and is transmitted from tall towers, where each tower typically covers a 100-mile diameter region at a time. Because this spectrum is IP based it can be used as a supplement to enhance the efficiencies of 4 and 5G networks.   
The goal of this three-part webinar series is to start an honest discussion about the benefits and real-world challenges of using ATSC 3.0 broadcast spectrum as a wireless data network to supplement 4 and 5G network data flow to Connected Vehicles.  
We worked hard to balance our speakers between broadcast and automotive experts so both perspectives will be well represented. Webinar #1 has been completed and can be viewed on demand.

Webinar No. 1: Watch on Demand

This webinar introduces how Connected Vehicles could use broadcast spectrum for wireless multicast (one to many) data transport with existing 4 and 5G networks. Reports on 5G/ATSC 3.0 integration and plans underway to build a national network of broadcast spectrum will be presented.   

Learn more and visit www.atsc3advocate.com

#automotive #technology #webinar #infrastructure #telecom #media #ev #connectedvehicles #autotech #automobilityadvisors

Benefits and practical considerations of adding a wireless multicast network (ATSC 3.0) to Connected Vehicles

A three-part webinar series from AutoMobility Advisors and ONE Media 3.0/Sinclair Broadcast Group
Webinars will be held on Thursdays at 12 PM Eastern, 9 AM Pacific, and 5 PM London time 
Each webinar is one hour for speaker presentations/discussion followed by 30 minutes of audience Q&A

Dates: October 27, November 10, and December 1   

The goal: Bring together automobile connectivity and broadcast network experts
and advance a conversation between them

Register: https://bit.ly/3eEPgr8

Webinar #1: October 27, 2022, 12:00 PM ET

Automotive and broadcast experts review the benefits and considerations of a NextGen Broadcast/Multicast Network (ATSC 3.0) and how it can supplement LTE and 5G

Topics:

NextGen Broadcast/Multicast Network introduction
What is it? What can it do for Connected Vehicle (CV) connectivity? What testing has been done? Why consider testing now?

Cast.Era ATSC 3.0 Connected Vehicle testing
Cast.Era is a technology joint develop, join venture between SK Telecom, the largest carrier in South Korea, and Sinclair Broadcast Group. Automotive tests began in 2019, working with Korean broadcaster MBC, Hyundai Motors, and Mobius. Cast.Era is also working on a plan to add Multicast/Broadcast as a complementary service to 5G networks.

India’s “Direct to Consumer Broadcast” service where ATSC 3.0 becomes a 5G slice 
A custom version of ATSC 3.0 is being tested to become a slice within India’s 5G infrastructure.

A report from companies aggregating ATSC 3.0 networks into national networks
Automotive use of NextGen Broadcast/Multicast makes the most economic sense if deployed nationally. BitPath currently has 400 of the US’s 1,700 commercial TV stations onboard. We will talk about this and other Broadcast/Multicast aggregation services.

Register for the webinar: https://bit.ly/3eEPgr8

#automotive #technology #webinar #infrastructure #telecom #media #ev #connectedvehicles #autotech #automobilityadvisors

Carpe EV Diem

Photo Courtesy of Fully Charged
Photo Courtesy of Fully Charged

So many things are now happening within the mobility space, all at the same time, that there seems to be some new momentum for change. It’s now getting much harder to see that we might go anywhere but forward. More electric vehicles have been purchased by more open-minded buyers. More fast-charging infrastructure has been deployed. More new EV models are being launched. And more government and local resources have been provided along with policies designed to accelerate more EV adoption.

And as automotive companies change themselves, such as how they are organized (Ford), how they wrestle with becoming software providers (VW), and how they can vertically integrate for the new EV world by buying mining access (all), many other related things are happening too. For example, Ford has told its US dealers that by the end this month they need to commit to being an electric vehicle dealer, with the training and infrastructure Ford requires, or they will only get Ford’s internal combustion vehicles to sell. Sounds like an “ultium-atum” to use another maker’s term. Yet even with this kind of “take it or leave it” approach, the Ford Dealer Council prevailed and Ford agreed to create a middle pathway for smaller dealers to invest, an “EV lite” approach so to speak, so these dealers can sell a few EV’s per month and stay in the game. It’s clear that, at least in the US market, that if we do not respond to rural needs and enable the EV intenders in the middle of America, where there currently are few charge points for example, then we will limit the overall adoption rate of EV’s nationwide.

https://techcrunch.com/2022/09/14/ford-gives-dealers-an-ultimatum-on-ev-sales/

So companies like Ford are using the catalyst of this product change to electric vehicles to modify their sales approach as well. In the surface, it does not seem that a consumers choice of powertrain should change the sales model, but since Tesla and other new EV makers are selling their cars directly, or through an “agency” model, Ford and the other legacy automakers are right to explore this route as well. It’s easy to recall GM’s Saturn brand, which didn’t allow prices to be negotiated, so consumers knew the price before they arrived at the dealership. This worked well enough, but since Saturn’s product plan was starved, no new product meant that Saturn went away, regardless of the sales model.

And EV’s too will live and die by product selection and performance, not sales and distribution models. Consumers will always seek out and find a new product that has great value and exceeds their expectations. Tesla is the EV market leader not because of how it sells its cars, but how they work. While Tesla needs to bring out more accessibly priced models, it’s clear their basic product portfolio, with sedan’s and crossovers, are popular even though they are all at the higher end of the EV market. Having a network of Supercharger stations, that are easy to use, and widely deployed, and recently providing an adapter for owners to use chargers from other companies, means that Tesla continues to enable its new owners to have a positive EV experience.

https://cleantechnica.com/2022/08/26/us-electric-vehicle-market-growing-yet-tesla-still-dominates/

Recent research from JD Power shows that currently over 26% of all new car shoppers are very likely to purchase an EV within the next 12 months. And while Tesla still dominates the brand consideration for these potential EV consumers, Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, and Hyundai are now right behind. This is because of all the new EV models coming from these companies, like the F-150 Lightning, the Chevrolet Blazer, and the Hyundai Ioniq. New product gets all the marketing money in the automotive business, and when you see enough “EVerybody In” ads (from GM) you might become curious and start to look closer at buying an EV. When we have over 1 in 4 new car buyers saying they are considering an electric vehicle, we are on the cusp of much faster adoption. Actual EV sales are just over 6% in the US market currently, so this means that 4 times more people are considering an EV today.

Maybe the real challenge for the industry is simply not to disappoint these “willing” buyers, and to make sure their questions get answered the first time, wherever they look for information, either online or on the showroom floor. Reducing their “home charger-install anxiety” for these prospects might also be important now, as “vehicle range anxiety” is quickly becoming a thing of the past with 500 mile range EV’s now. Local, familiar, and understanding auto dealers would be great places to get all this selling done. Think about the early days of cell phones, and the “stores” from the cellular carriers. Customers could buy the device, buy the plan, get their questions answered, all with one stop. Of course as the carriers moved to more sales online, and self-service, much of this experience was eroded. We need to make sure the “EV buying experience” becomes easier and easier. Maybe this is part of what is driving Ford and others to “seize the day” and change their approach to EV’s.

Who will benefit? Well, consumers will get new technology vehicles that have lower operating costs, with an easy sales experience. Automakers and suppliers will be able to participate and earn revenue across the ownership cycle, from initial sales and “over-the-air” (OTA) software updates. Dealers will have an opportunity as well, selling generally higher-transaction priced EV vehicles, but still having many service and repair opportunities beyond the powertrain, and perhaps participating in battery recycling and “energy storage systems” (ESS) redeployment of vehicle batteries. Local governments will have cleaner vehicles and quieter traffic. Utilities will have plenty of roving electricity “storage” too. And the planet will have less greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Sounds pretty good to me. Let’s all “carpe diem” to a greener future!

View The Newsletter on LinkedIn

Circling around traffic congestion

gray scale photo of road
Photo by Tuur Tisseghem on Pexels.com

I have long considered this roadway change to be a great way to reduce traffic congestion. My friends in the UK will wonder why the US has taken so long to embrace this simple approach. When I drove to work in Coventry, England, from my home in the West Midlands, I could usually make it all the way without stopping once. No idling, saves fuel, saves time, just works! Might even help Autonomous Vehicles be safer as there is no need for the “eye to eye” head nod required at 4-way stops. Of course roundabouts are nearly incompatible with cupholders (learned that the hard way) and they require drivers to actually understand how they work. In the US, many drivers unfamiliar with them stop in the middle of them, causing even bigger issues. And the enormous SUV’s that American’s seem to favor are not the best at handling quick right- left – right maneuvers. Roundabouts beg for more agile traffic conveyances. But I would love to see more of these. Maybe it can be a subcategory of the Infrastructure legislation? Let’s get rid of stop signs and replace all the intersections with a system that makes life smoother. #intelligenttransportation #roundabout #infrastructure

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2022/09/29/what-carmel-indiana-can-teach-america-about-urbanism

We need to talk about Tesla’s deadly problem

This issue is not covered well enough in the industry press.

As a motorcyclist myself, and someone working to help improve the tech underlying vehicle “perception” and therefore reaction to seeing motorcycles on the road, we need to look more closely at all road users. In a future of Automated Driving that includes EV powered Pods continuously circulating, there will still be some who choose to ride 2 wheels. Autonomous cars that can’t see motorcycles is not acceptable. Thank goodness there are companies like BlueFusion helping to improve how vehicles see in all conditions. https://lnkd.in/ghbjk55D

I support the AMA’s good work educating automakers, autonomous driving technology companies, and the public about this issue, and will continue to do so. #cars #autonomousvehicles #autonomousdriving #adas #motorcycles #safety #tech # #future

AMA News!


Dan Teeter Joins AutoMobility Advisors as Advisory Director

Brings decades of experience in Connected Services and Market Research at companies like Nissan and Ford to AMA’s clients.

By: AutoMobility Advisors

Dan Teeter of AutoMobility Advisors

Dan Teeter of AutoMobility Advisors

MARIETTA, Ga. – Oct. 3, 2022 – PRLog — Dan Teeter, a leader in Automotive Connected Vehicles and Market Research & Intelligence, has joined AutoMobility Advisors (AMA) as Advisory Director. Dan has decades of experience in the automotive industry at companies like Ford and most recently Nissan, where he led the Connected Vehicles program for North America.

At AMA, Dan will work with AMA’s key clients – automotive start-ups, technology companies, investors, and researchers to help them scale and grow in the automotive and transportation connectivity, mobility, digitalization, and innovation spaces. With a background in all facets of Connected Vehicles, Market Intelligence, Six Sigma, Business Transformation, Field Operations, and Business Strategy, Dan brings a wealth of experience and a current OEM perspective to AMA’s clients for solving their challenges for today and tomorrow.

Dan has always looked to do great things, like achieving an industry leader-level satisfaction rating for Nissan with automotive mobile apps, voice assistant integrations, and connectivity feature offerings. In fact, Dan did some of the earliest research at Ford on customer acceptance of hybrid electric vehicles, Bluetooth, and connected vehicle technologies.

George Ayres, Managing Director of AutoMobility Advisors said, “Dan brings wonderful energy and solid experience in mobility, connectivity, and customer experience research to the growing AMA team and will help stimulate our clients to achieve their own greatness as they scale their business.” Dan Teeter said, “I’ve known George since the 1990’s and look forward to helping him and the entire AutoMobility Advisors team, but most importantly our clients, to develop new opportunities and create compelling strategies that help lead the way in the automotive mobility industry.”

Dan has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Go Quakers! Go Blue!

Dan is a dedicated husband and he and his wife are the proud parents of two sons. Dan loves spending quality time watching their kids play Ultimate Frisbee for their respective high school and college teams. Before embarking on his automotive career, Dan thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine on his first-ever backpacking trip, proving once and for all that it is possible to succeed if you have a positive attitude and take things one step at a time!

https://www.prlog.org/12934948-dan-teeter-joins-automobility-advisors-as-advisory-director.html

Contact
George Ayres
george@automobilityadvisors.com

The High Cost of EV Adoption Today

  • Published on July 8, 2022
Photo Courtesy of Libertyplugins.com
Photo Courtesy of Libertyplugins.com

George Ayres

Automotive | Leader | Sales | Marketing | Mobility | Connected | Electric | Autonomous | Shared | Revenue | Growth

18 articles

The transformation of the auto industry from internal combustion engines to battery power is accelerating, no doubt about it. And the infrastructure, charging networks, and government support for this change are increasing. Consumer themselves are listening, learning, and becoming more interested in moving towards EV’s too. The article below describes a recent Consumer Reports survey that said 14% of people would definitely purchase an EV, but twice this number (28%) definitely “would not” consider an EV. What about the 58% in the middle? What will it take to move them? I think the main issue at the moment is not range, charging infrastructure, or fear of new tech. It’s simply cost. EV’s are expensive right now. Too expensive! And it seems things will be this way for at least 3 years. Let’s look at why.

https://www.linkedin.com/embeds/publishingEmbed.html?articleId=8431522422095463804&li_theme=dark

It’s clear that soon we will have many varieties of electric vehicles available, and some will be more affordable. All OEM’s are moving quickly. Just take a look at the center-spread of this week’s Automotive News (shown below) and you can see that every Automaker is moving faster to transform their product line-up to more EV’s. And States like California are moving to full EV only. But much of this terrific new product development is not helping buyers yet, as the models currently available for sale are all just too expensive.

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For example, the EV market leader, Tesla, has not expanded its model range for awhile, and even the Model 3 starts at $45k. Ford has the F-150 Lightning and Mach E, but they both cost $40k or more, and very hard to get. And yes, the Cadillac Lyriq sold out in a few hours, but it is in very limited production and costs over $60,000 which is much more expensive than the majority of the buyers in the new car market can afford. And because GM is no longer eligible, there is not even an EV tax credit for this vehicle. But GM did recently reduce the price of the Chevy Bolt. So GM is clearly thinking about EV affordability.

https://www.linkedin.com/embeds/publishingEmbed.html?articleId=8673126474556867075&li_theme=dark

But all of the new EV vehicles are not here yet. And people need to buy something, or upgrade their current vehicle, and can’t wait. Supply is constrained due to the ongoing semi-conductor chip shortage. And component material prices for batteries are increasing, especially for lithium and cobalt, due to the overall growing EV demand. See the article below from Alix Partners, a research firm, outlining the current situation. One key point they mention is this comparison. “At $3,662 per vehicle (in the US), ICE raw-material content is nearly double pre-pandemic levels. This pales in comparison to BEV raw-material content, which is now $8,255 per vehicle. The disparity is driven largely by cobalt, nickel, and lithium prices.”

https://www.linkedin.com/embeds/publishingEmbed.html?articleId=7764712561928756266&li_theme=dark

While new advances in battery technology like “solid-state” batteries promise better range and greater materials supply, these batteries currently cost four times more than standard lithium-ion batteries, exaggerating the current problem. Toyota is well placed to lead in this area, but it will be awhile before we see the majority of vehicles with solid-state batteries.

https://www.linkedin.com/embeds/publishingEmbed.html?articleId=9124043172319042537&li_theme=dark

Add in rising global inflation, which means you can buy less for the same money, and a war in Ukraine which keeps energy markets volatile, and no wonder consumers are hesitating. While they are paying $5 for gasoline, and sure don’t like it, coming up with the cash for a new EV is getting harder and harder.

For example, the average new car payment is now over $700 per month. Since the cost of borrowing is rising as the Fed raises interest rates to combat inflation, car buyers can either buy less car, or they have to put up more of their income for a car. Since all other prices are also rising, like mortgage payments, groceries, and school supplies, they feel the squeeze.

https://www.linkedin.com/embeds/publishingEmbed.html?articleId=7812184282103910342&li_theme=dark

And the average car loan length is now six years, which means that consumers that buy ICE vehicles today will be “upside down” a few more years longer, meaning they will owe more for the car than the car is worth. A negative equity situation. We have seen this phenomenon in the car market more than once, and it never works out for the either the consumer or the automaker. It delays purchases and keeps people trapped in their old technology. The average car on the road in the US is currently 12.2 years, which is much longer than historically we have seen. The current financing market dynamics are suggesting this may get even longer. The promise of a new EV will be in the distant future for too many.

https://www.linkedin.com/embeds/publishingEmbed.html?articleId=8622472421372719983&li_theme=dark

So if OEM’s want people to move to EV’s they need to bring affordable EV’s to market. They need to work with the government and their ecosystem to ensure that there is wide penetration of EV infrastructure. And of course the government needs to increase EV incentives and encourage more switching from ICE to EV, and not with just tax cuts. What about helping people pay for installing home chargers? While there is good commitment for this from the current administration, these programs are not yet simple, practical, and easy to access. Why not a “voucher” system for anyone buying an EV from a dealer, or even online, to receive a rebate on the cost of a home charger. Tax credits are hard to access and too far removed from the original cost outlay. Consumers need relief on this cost more quickly.

https://www.linkedin.com/embeds/publishingEmbed.html?articleId=6987414249488379809&li_theme=dark

Overall consumer will move to electric vehicles, the trend is now inevitable, as product development cycles for automakers are many years long. The ocean liner turns slowly. So we will see lots of EV choices for new car buyers in a few years. And high volume categories like Pick-up trucks will even be very EV competitive. This is all good for the future.

But we need to do some things now to ensure people make the move to EV earlier. I recall the “Get America Rolling” initiative GM introduced 10 days after the 9/11 attacks, when the auto market had become paralyzed. It used 0% financing to boost demand for new cars, boosting the US economy in the process, and by the end of 2001 it had helped sell 1 million more cars. It was like marketing adrenaline.

Given the existential threat of climate change and the need to reduce automotive emissions quickly, let’s find a way to move every current in-market buyer to pick their first EV today, and not wait one more cycle. How about it. Let’s “Charge Up America!” Today!

Learn more about how you can better prepare for the new mobility future and the changes, and opportunities this creates, by contacting us at Automobility Advisors. 

The Auto Digital Experience Fight Club

  • Published on June 10, 2022
Composite photo created by Mariestella
Composite photo created by Mariestella

George Ayres

Automotive | Leader | Sales | Marketing | Mobility | Connected | Electric | Autonomous | Shared | Revenue | Growth

18 articles

Ok, what happens when you put all the competitors in a room and tell them to start swinging while simultaneously placing bets to pick the winners (and of course the losers) too? You guessed it, a fight club where it’s everyone for themselves. Makes a good movie perhaps, but does it make for a good way to digitally transform the automotive user experience? Are owners, drivers, riders, and fleets better off with tools that only work in one setting, or vehicle, and not in another? Do you need to put on a new pair of digital driving shoes each time you jump in a different car? Well, currently we are witnessing a sort of fight club mindset within car software experience development. It may get a little bloody, so hang on.

First, some boundary, or “ringside ropes” terminology to clarify this discussion. In the battle for the Digital Experience within Automobiles there are many terms, but all eventually come down to the same thing: How the car works when you’re either inside it, or controlling it remotely when outside of it. We can include ideas like “Software-Defined Vehicle” and the in-vehicle “Operating System,” in this mix. And proprietary names like Apple CarPlay or Google’s Android Auto are part of it too. And Amazon Alexa, as a way to control the experience with your voice, is included. And now we can add new names like “Ultifi,” General Motor’s new “end-to-end software platform” that is “designed to unlock new vehicle experiences and connect customers’ digital lives” as their announcement recently said. All of these things are coming together very rapidly, and the gloves have now been taken off all the participants. They used to play nice together, but now it’s getting serious.

For decades of course, only the carmakers controlled how the car worked; how you turned the radio on, adjusted the climate control, or how the car collected data. Then they started working with other companies like Verizon and WirelessCar to enable “telematics,” a way to transmit vehicle information to an off-board platform and for the vehicle to receive instructions “over-the-air” or OTA. Then smartphones came along and customers started to complain that if they actually complied with the local highway safety rules, and did not use or talk on their handheld phone while driving, then the car effectively became a black hole for them. They were “off the grid” in terms of data and communication when they were driving.

Since nearly everyone now relies on text, email, internet, and voice, to do basically anything, the automakers then needed a way to integrate these phones into the car so they could be used on the move without distraction. So Apple was given access to the vehicle and introduced Carplay, and Google was given access and introduced Android Auto. This was a love/hate relationship for most Auto OEM’s because when they give access, they lose control of the experience. Sometimes they forget of course that customers really LIKE their Apple i-phone experience, and enjoying this in their car as well is a good thing for owner loyalty.

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Once the door was open and the tech companies had access, they started pushing on it harder. Many Auto OEM’s have now signed up to let them too, and we’ll see if they are taking a punch in the process. At right is a recent listing from Google about the OEM’s that use the Android Automotive O/S. And just this week Apple made a big announcement about the new CarPlay and its ability to “more deeply integrate with a car’s hardware.” Ouch!

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Here is a view of what they mean. Without leaving the Apple interface you will be able to adjust climate controls, for example, so that you’re not jumping between CarPlay and the vehicle controls, keeping you inside the Apple O/S while you drive. It’s kind of like pushing you up against the ropes and holding you there awhile. From a carmaker point of view, ceding control of the customer experience for actually operating the car must be gut-wrenching. But they have already done it for music and “infotainment” so why not for other functions? But where does Apple stop and the Automaker’s own systems begin? How will GM’s Ultifi, for example, work with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay? What is Ultifi giving up? Who is going to win the fight for control of the experience? It’s a melee today.

Below as great chart from my friends at MotorMindz that shows a few good examples of how some Auto OEM’s are betting on winning this fight themselves. Of course for over 100 years automakers have controlled how their cars got built, but once sold, they were done. The only things they needed to worry about was paying for repairs under the warranty. Now they want to control, or at least participate in, how their cars get “operated and updated” by the first, second, and even third owners. Over the “lifetime” of your vehicle, they want to continuously upgade how your car works, help you enjoy improvements in operations and performance (and charge you for this) and generally make a car like a smartphone, with easy to install OTA updates. But what happens when Apple decides they don’t want to make that change to how the climate control gets adjusted, either because they are not ready or because they are not getting paid to do it? Does the Automaker have any recourse to force them? Giving up control has a downside if you are an OEM.

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Of course, the driver or passenger wants the best experience, so delays in making updates, or incompatibility stemming from a fight for control of the experience, may end up disappointing users, who will remember who’s car worked seamlessly, and who’s didn’t. One of the reasons Apple has been successful across phones, computers, tablets, and even tv’s is the idea of ‘interoperability.’ That means an Apple device will more or less work the same way, whatever the hardware or situation. A seamless user experience, where it would be comfortable for you to use and interact with apps in your friends car, your wife’s car, riding in the back of your daughter’s new car, or even riding in an Uber might make you not even think about how to access the experience. It will just happen. Muscle memory, perhaps.

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Some of the automakers are racing to create not just their own operating systems (O/S) but also their own “walled garden” ecosystems to go along with this. I remember buying a Verizon phone, back in the day, that had a proprietary set of Verizon apps, because Apple had not yet allowed Verizon to access its apps. It was pretty weak, and was quickly displaced by the Apple app store once the access was granted. It seems that AT&T had exclusive rights to the Apple iPhone until Feb 3, 2011 when Apple let Verizon also have it. What if Apple grant’s Ford exclusive rights to the new CarPlay, and GM Ultifi has to make do with the old one? Since no car company wants this situation, it makes sense for them to want to build their own “app stores” to keep their customers happy. But Automaker’s are not (yet) software companies, or app development companies just like a boxer and a fighter are not the same.

And here’s another interesting one. Subaru not long ago told it’s dealers that it had to disable its Starlink connected services in the State of Massachusetts in order to comply with the recent changes to the State’s “right-to-repair” law. As reported by Repairer Driven News, “a key issue in the case is whether it is possible for OEMs to comply with both federal law and Section 3 of the groundbreaking Massachusetts Data Access Law, which requires any OEM with a telematics system to provide an “inter-operable, standardized and open access platform across all of the manufacturer’s makes and models” independent repairers could use, beginning with the 2022 model year. So here is another dimension for automakers to deal with, open access to your O/S in order to allow others to work on your vehicles. Again giving up control. And the automaker is having to modify vehicle features, dynamically, in order to comply with government requests. If Apple or Google were controlling the vehicle O/S could Subaru rely on them to comply?

So what is the solution? Perhaps to win the fight the Auto OEM’s have to surrender to the user’s wishes. Automobiles are just one of the many devices people use in their daily lives, and for more and more of them, cars are simply a necessity to get from one physical place to another, and not a way to self-actualize or virtually move through the world. We have Meta/Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, Zoom, and a billion smartphone apps that can better hold user attention it seems. What people do want is for their personal technology to work together easily, and without effort, and to be able to use it while in their car, and maybe in an even better way. For example, why don’t all window’s function as display screens so that wherever you look, there is your information, or entertainment? Some OEM’s are working on exactly this. And as these users move through the world, they want their profiles and settings to move with them, and they’ll appreciate not noticing the changes that happen in the background. Alert. Adaptive. Agile. Sounds like a good fighter to me.

The Auto OEM’s that create the most open, flexible, and easiest to work with systems, for the most widely used technology and their providers, will win the fight and collect the pot of money. Then they can go home and clean up.