One of the presentations that stood out was a keynote by Witricity’s CEO Alex Gruzen. In his presentation, he spoke about the future of mobility as he envisions it, and it’s wireless.
Wireless charging solutions are rapidly becoming a high priority in our quest to integrate them seamlessly into the infrastructure of our cities and homes. Witricity, a pioneer in this field since 2007, has been at the forefront of this transformation.
From their integration with OEMs in 2012 to the upcoming 5th generation, the journey has been noteworthy.
The vision is clear: Passive charging through wireless infrastructure, creating an “energy cloud” that forms a virtual fleet of predictable wireless energy availability. This concept brings limitless range for consumers and opens doors to virtual power plans for utilities, enhancing the overall consumer experience and unlocking revenue opportunities across the network.
Witricity’s V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) ready product qualification and fast-track retrofit OEM integration in just 90 days pave the way for full-scale mass production in 3-4 years.
As we move towards a more electrified future, Witricity’s focus on making eMobility easy and efficient, if it realizes will perhaps someday soon, become an integral part of our everyday lives.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Amir Tirosh, CEO of StoreDot, where he shared insights about the company and its innovative solutions for electric vehicles (EVs). Scaling up EVs is indeed a challenge, particularly when it comes to infrastructure. However, StoreDot is on the forefront of addressing this challenge.
StoreDot has engineered EV batteries that are not only faster to recharge but also safer and more sustainable, according to StoreDot. Their technology leverages patented organic nanomaterials, fine-tuned through AI, and is ready for mass production in high-energy cells.
They’re introducing EV battery technology that fills a crucial gap in the ecosystem, collaborating with top-tier manufacturers and infrastructure firms to make it a reality.
This journey towards ultra-fast charging and high-energy density batteries spans a decade and involves a cohesive team of 35 PhDs with expertise across multiple fields. Their dedication to changing the world through innovations like “Range on Demand” is inspiring.
It’s clear that if StoreDot’s proposals prove true, they could be transformative in the near term, revolutionizing the landscape of electric mobility. I’m excited to see where their technology takes us.
The discussion covered topics such as inductive charging roadways, autonomous lane engines, and the role of technology in reducing road accidents.
Sylvano Carrasco posed a crucial question about the impact of autonomous vehicles will depend, whether autonomous cars are owned by corporate giants like Google or they are privately owned. Regardless, with platforms like Getaround consumers can transition away from car ownership, offering on-demand access to vehicles that are both instant and convenient. Providing a crucial connecting resource for the transition in vehicle utilization for the future.
Michele Mueller emphasized the DOT’s vision for a multimodal future, focusing on safety and sustainability leveraging new technologies and startups as a partners in innovation.
Connectivity emerged as a crucial theme throughout the conversation, with a call to learn from other industries, particularly the aviation sector’s transformation in the 1970s.
The panel also highlighted Michigan’s pivotal role in future transportation implementation, emphasizing partnerships with startups and inclusive infrastructure development with local municipalities and networks.
In the rapidly changing landscape of the automotive industry, staying ahead of the curve has never been more critical. George Ayres, the founder and Managing Director of AutoMobility Advisors, was recently featured on the EisnerAmper podcast with Aimann Rasheed, and discussed the topic of “Digital Transformation in Automotive.”
The podcast provided a glimpse into the future of the automotive industry, which is currently undergoing a profound transformation, largely driven by advancements in digital technology. Topics ranged from connected vehicles and autonomous driving to smart manufacturing and data analytics. George shared his vision of what lies ahead for the industry, emphasizing the pivotal role of digital transformation.
One of the central themes of the conversation was the importance of embracing technology within the automotive world. George, through his experience at AutoMobility Advisors, underscored how digital transformation can enhance various aspects of the industry, from improving customer experiences to optimizing supply chain management. By harnessing the power of data and automation, automotive companies can streamline operations, reduce costs, and ultimately deliver a superior product to their consumers.
However, it’s essential to acknowledge that no transformation comes without its set of challenges, and the automotive industry’s digital journey is no exception. George Ayres and Aimann Rasheed delved into the hurdles that companies may encounter during this transformative process. These challenges encompass concerns related to data security, adapting to new business models, and managing the complexities of integrating digital technologies into traditional automotive processes. Despite these challenges, the conversation also highlighted the tremendous opportunities that await those who can navigate them successfully.
In a world where customer expectations are constantly evolving, George Ayres emphasized the importance of adopting a customer-centric approach. He pointed out that by leveraging digital tools, automotive companies can better understand their customers’ needs and preferences. This deep understanding allows them to create tailored experiences and products that resonate with their target audience, thereby fostering customer loyalty and satisfaction.
To hear George Ayres and Aimann Rasheed’s engaging conversation, you can listen to the full podcast episode here.
Stay tuned for more exciting discussions and insights from industry experts on the EisnerAmper podcast. Don’t forget to follow the conversation using the hashtags #EisnerAmperPodcast and #AutoMobilityAdvisors on social media.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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