Technology can be quickly disruptive to even the most established of industries. Few industries exemplify this more than the automotive industry today, fueled by changes in demographics, economics, and lifestyle expectations. Arising from this disruption a new, “smart mobility” is, or should be, the new mantra for automotive companies.
Urban growth and the rise of Smart Cities: Cities around the world have seen a renaissance over the past couple decades. The built environment for such things as work, living, culture, shopping, and even healthcare has improved. Cities are cool again, and they have become smarter, from simple things like paying for parking with your phone, to autonomous cars delivering pizza. This revitalization of cities has drawn millennials to the urban landscape, and with that, a different mindset around transportation and the need for individual car ownership. Whether or not an urban professional owns a vehicle, what they want is the ability to interact with that mobility device (a car, on-demand minibus) or other “transportation” much the way they interact with other connected parts of their life.
To be clear, for the foreseeable future, millions of people will purchase cars, trucks, SUVs, etc., for personal use. The convenience, indeed the need for car ownership for suburbanites and rural areas is not going away soon. Even so, one can foresee the lure of car sharing or other forms of mobility that are simpler and less expensive. Imagine the possibilities when that Zip car can drive itself to your house.
But the smart money is on the inexorable trend towards smart cars that function seamlessly in smart cities. Automobile manufacturers must fully embrace this trend and devote substantial resources to technology and innovation centers that challenge the status quo. They must experiment with autonomous driving in widely variable conditions, EV vehicles that can communicate with each other, improved battery technology, and they must develop great mobile apps for end users. This entails breaking down the barriers of adoption and providing a smooth customer experience that compliments the other parts of their technology-enabled lives.
Furthermore, the platforms and data systems that control and manage the services will be an important revenue stream, and companies who do this part well and cater to the sensibilities and expectations of the mobility clients will be the winners. To state it more succinctly: vehicle OEMs need to transform themselves into smart mobility companies, with a combination of in-house expertise and strong partnerships that can take innovations from the lab into a highly competitive and complex environment.
I will be at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show and welcome the opportunity to continue the conversation with you around the connected car, smart mobility, and applied innovation within the rapidly evolving automotive business or you can also connect with me online.