We spoke to Patrick Popp, CTO of TE Connectivity’s Transportation Solutions business; Robin Chase, Founder and former CEO of Zipcar; and Dr. Björn Giesler, Head of Domain Driver Assistance at Elektrobit Automotive GmbH, about their thoughts on the future of automotive innovation and how new technologies are disrupting the industry. As technology gets cheaper and people have a desire to be more connected, cars are quickly transforming from being something you drive into something you experience.
How are new technologies disrupting the tech industry and what does this mean for consumer experiences?
Patrick Popp, CTO of TE Connectivity’s Transportation Solutions business:
What we’re seeing is more and more disruption happening at a larger scale and it’s happening faster and faster.
I think many of us are aware of, for example, what the automated spreadsheet did for accountants. We understand what the personal computer did to companies like IBM. We also understand what tablets and handheld devices did to the PC industry. All those technical innovations caused major disruptions in the markets that they serve.
What we’re seeing today is that these disruptions are happening not only in the electronics or computer industry, but because the cost of computing has become so cheap, we’re seeing an impact of that disruption in almost every industry.
Think about the automotive industry. Today we have a number of major trends that are majorly disrupting the business models of the existing companies. Think about autonomous driving. Think about battery-driven vehicles. Think about software applications that you can download on a temporary basis. Those are major challenges all driven by new technology disruptions.
Robin Chase, Founder and former CEO of Zipcar:
The biggest disruption facing big legacy companies today is that there now exists platforms that give the power of the corporation to individuals. Individuals today can do so many things that companies used to do, and they can do it simply and easily. So if you don’t try to be customer-focused, and drive their costs down, someone else is going to do it very simply and very cheaply.
This has led to the rise of the sharing economy for a number of reasons. One of its major appeals is that it’s driven by economics – it’s just much cheaper to have access to something than to own it. So pay-as-you-go and on-demand is definitely cheaper and more convenient.
The other reason that the sharing economy is growing is because of technology. We see ratings and commentaries associated with this type of sharing and we feel this real sense of trust because we know that each and every person who touches this system is rated. So I will act correctly because I know I’m going to be rated, and I know also that bad performers will be quickly thrown out of the system. And this confidence is passed from sector to sector and app to ap
So if I feel comfortable sharing on Airbnb, I’m also comfortable using Lyft or Uber. This idea of sharing, reputation, and being able to track people historically is something that we’re very comfortable with today.
Dr. Björn Giesler, Head of Domain Driver Assistance at Elektrobit Automotive GmbH
The greatest disruption in the car industry is that the car is no longer just for driving, but it’s also for entertaining, for working, and for anything else you want to do in your life. You can do all of this in the car and that’s totally new. That’s something that hasn’t been there before.
Imagine you’re on your daily commute nowadays, and you’re standing in traffic for, say, 15 minutes. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do something else in those 15 minutes? Turns out with autonomous driving you can, and that’s the first thing that we’re going to see on the roads. It’s going to be in the areas where you really don’t want to drive, like in traffic or parking, when it gets difficult, when it gets boring.
Autonomous driving is going to give you that time back that today you lose in traffic. And it’s giving you that time back by letting you do something that you really want to do, like reading a book, watching a movie, walking through that PowerPoint presentation for the 8:00 a.m. meeting. It’s going to give you time, and we think that’s the greatest gift that we can give.
What exciting things are on the horizon of the automotive industry? What do you see appearing in the next 5 years?
Patrick Popp, CTO of TE Connectivity’s Transportation Solutions business:
In the next five years, I believe we will see a number of different offerings around connected vehicles, plug-in hybrids as well as electric vehicles and vehicles that are much more lightweight.
Today, the car is still a space unlike the office or the home, where we have much less connectivity and bandwidth, and that means less access to the consumer applications that people are used to.
We will see many more lightweight applications and applications on-demand. Soon you won’t have to buy an expensive navigation system, for example. You will have a lightweight navigation application in your vehicle. Lightweight also means you pay less because it only helps you in the immediate vicinity where you’re living.
Imagine you’re taking a trip to Rome for a week or so, and during that time you will rent the navigation service through some cloud-based activities. And when you return home from your vacation, you stop paying for that service because you don’t need it any longer. That’s more than exciting. It is transforming the driving experience.
Robin Chase Founder and former CEO of Zipcar:
The innovations we’re seeing in the transportation sector really have to do with what’s happening for urban transportation. I think it’s very exciting. It’s not just shared cars but shared trips and different kinds of shared vehicles. We’re seeing a lot of exploration around who owns a particular vehicle. Is it the company? Is it a government? Is it an individual? And then who uses them?
The future of transportation will be very multi-modal. Each and every time we go someplace, we’ll be choosing the right mode for that trip. It might be that I’m walking, biking, taking transit, or some shared autonomous vehicle.
And I think it’s quite likely that in addition I will have some sort of personal mobility vehicle – a single-occupancy vehicle that will be going on special lanes at high speeds that I will likely own. So that might be a bike, it might be an electric bike, it might be some enclosed vehicle that’s suitable for all kinds of weather. But I do see that we’ll be choosing the mode for each and every trip, much like when you wake up in the morning you eat lots of different things in the day.
Dr. Björn Giesler, Head of Doman Driver Assistance at Elektrobit Automotive GmbH
I think in five years it’s going to be the time when we’ve seen the first iteration of successful autonomous driving. And five years after that, we’re going to have the legal framework down pat and we’re going to see them going at much higher velocities and on much longer journeys.
When you’re in an autonomous vehicle, the question is: what are you actually allowed to do?
Today you’re not allowed to do anything other than driving in a vehicle. The autonomous car is going to totally change that. In the future you will be much more productive and entertained while in the car. The vehicle will actually facilitate what you can do while you’re driving.
It’s going to change customers’ lives by changing the way they interact with a vehicle and the vehicle interacts with them. And also it’s going to make the world a much safer place because we’re moving towards a zero-accident situation with driverless cars. It’s going to change everything.