My favourite disruptions in the automotive industry right now (video)
The automotive industry is being disrupted by 3 major trends:
- Electric drive-train: batteries and electric motors replacing gas and ICE (internal combustion engines). The more powerful onboard computer and infotainment screen transformed the car to COW (computer on wheels) which led to more software on the car and increased the consumer expectation.
- Change in ownership model: as regulations and customer experience makes the cars more expensive, less people want to invest in owning a car when all they care about is to get from A to B. The car is rapidly losing its value as a prestige symbol. Ride sharing, private leasing, subscription and pay-as-go offer a more convenient economical alternatives to owning the car.
- Autonomous driving: as dull as driving may feel, I sincerely believe we cannot achieve level 5 without also reaching AGI (artificial general intelligence)
There are a lot of disruptive innovations happening in the auto industry that truly position it as the business segment which defines the pace of innovation in the following decade — pretty much like how smartphones did in the past decade.
Below is a few of my favourite changes in the auto industry:
Why stick the battery to the car and waste hours charging it when you could just replace it in a few minutes?
Nio does exactly that at a commercially available vehicle at the world’s largest EV market (China).
Here is their entire battery swap footage
Here’s the second iteration of the idea where the car positions itself correctly in the battery change station:
There are millions of ICE cars on the road today. Electric drive train is clean and all, but why waste nature’s resources and break the bank to buy a new car where the main selling point is a drive train upgrade?
That’s exactly the idea behind the French company Transition One:
Thinking about it, this is even a “greener” option than buying a new car because you don’t throw the rest of the car just to upgrade the motor!
A crate motor is an engine sold separately from the vehicle. They have predominantly served as a way for car enthusiast and hobbyists to modify their car and they are incredibly common. In fact most car manufacturers sell them directly as an accessory.
Ford however, went a step further and offers an electric motor for some of their ICE models.
F150 lost to CyberTruck but with this move Ford earned a special respect for those of us who still see no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater when upgrading the drive train to electric. You can keep an old car AND be green!
Built on the remnants of one of the smartest car brands (SAAB), Nevs is a urban MaaS (mobility-as-a-service) company which is gearing up for when level 5 autonomous driving technology is in place. What’s interesting is that they are thinking ecosystem connecting a fleet of cars to the users.
The trucking industry in 2021 was short a record 80,000 drivers, according to the American Trucking Associations. Long-haul drivers, who often face grueling routes and can be on the road for weeks at a time, are in especially short supply. According to the Transportation Department, roughly 300,000 truck drivers leave the profession every year. (ref)
The COVID-19 pandemic made it even worse: while more people relied on online shopping and delivery, truck driver training and apprenticeship programs were either closed or limited their operations.
Einride helps in three ways: they make it possible for truck drivers to “work remotely”, control multiple cars and if all goes well, they are one more autonomous driving manufacturer addressing the big cars!
Steel making is a major source of CO2 emissions. Volvo is the first car maker to join the SteelZero initiative. Volvo Cars’ ambition to by climate neutral by 2040 is part of its comprehensive climate action plan, one of the most ambitious in the auto industry.
I love this video which pretty much sums up Volvo’s angle:
Although all these innovations promise a greener future, the best way to save the environment is of course to reduce our dependence to transportation altogether.
While electric drive train is all the rage, we should not forget that there are other parts which could use innovation. Fossil-free steel is a good innovation but tires for example are not there yet: