What I think is interesting is that CES (the enormous annual Consumer Electronics Show) has become the leading showcase of what is becoming one of the most significant changes in the car industry since the invention of the car. The world is moving back to electric vehicles to reduce global warming and turning these vehicles into rolling iPods, or entertainment pods that drive themselves.
Here are some of the things to look for at the show.
The General Motors Keynote
General Motors is one of the more exciting firms driving the move to electric vehicles (here is a video I just discovered showcasing their vision from decades ago). Their showcase vehicle is ironically the Hummer. This brand had collapsed as concerns about fossil fuel use drove people away from the brand. The new Hummer is a fantastic new vehicle with off-road capabilities most folks only dream about. If they ever make an SUV version, I’d be sorely tempted to buy one myself, but, sadly, the first iteration is a pickup truck. The most exciting feature is the ability to steer all four wheels to move sideways. I would have killed for that feature back when I was doing a lot of off-road driving and, I expect GM will have some other exciting surprises in their keynote. GM’s CMO Deborah Wahl will host a later GM session to help those looking to market these new excellent vehicles (it might be worth a visit if you are interested in marketing as well).
Transform Anxiety to Delight for EV Drivers
One of the big problems that we face as the industry drives forward with autonomous vehicles is that many potential customers don’t trust the technology. Given the worldwide benefit would be to save over a million lives a year (now that is a scary number), addressing this problem should be a far higher priority than it is. Understanding and addressing potential customer concerns is critical to mitigating those concerns and driving demand towards this new technology. Sessions like this, coupled with the presented advice’s execution, could improve this technology’s adoption and the related life-saving benefits.
Vehicle Tech Innovations Consumers Want
Like any producer of complex offerings, car companies often struggle with what features consumers want in new vehicles. This problem becomes more pronounced when there are considerable changes to the market, as the introduction of electric self-driving vehicles. In these very different vehicles evolving to become more like horizontal elevators, the cars we have grown to know over the decades’ wants and needs will change dramatically. For instance, with current cars, it is illegal to have driver distractions. With these new vehicles, the cars drive themselves, and distractions (entertainment) flips from being a problem to a viable feature.
The Electrifying Future of Premium Mobility
Audi put on this session on an electric car in the market and has been one of the leaders in autonomous cars’ advancement. I have a conflict, so I won’t be able to make this session myself, but if anyone knows how to promote, prioritize, and sell high-end vehicles, which tend to be the most viable electric cars and where true autonomous driving is likely to show up in a vehicle you can buy, it’s Audi.
Panasonic Energy and The Future of the EV Battery
Panasonic is one of the world’s leaders in battery technology; they have likely forgotten more than most car companies know about advanced batteries. Panasonic’s view of what is going on with batteries will have a lot to do with how electric vehicles evolve and how soon they can genuinely take the place of ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles. Batteries also impact a lot of other segments, like mobile communications and entertainment.
Making Autonomous Vehicles a Reality
This session is put on by Caterpillar, a firm looking at autonomous industrial vehicles that could reduce labor costs and workplace accidents resulting from highly monotonous jobs. Caterpillar has been selling autonomous vehicles for mining and other purposes for years. Their insight into how to market this class of vehicle could be invaluable to those looking to sell self-driving solutions.
Again, this year, CES will be an incredible showcase of advanced vehicle technology from in-car entertainment to full-on self-driving capability. If you are as interested in this as I am, be sure to attend or look for those of us covering the sessions. I’ll be attending most of these sessions, and I’m looking forward to CES this year as a result. I hope to see you virtually next week!