Technical.ly Philly – by Alex Agizim, CTO, Automotive & Embedded Systems, EPAM
Last week was my eighth year attending CES in Las Vegas — notably the world’s largest consumer technology showcase. What I’ve always found exciting about this global stage for innovation is thinking about how these new technologies will impact our world, specifically for the automotive industry. This year’s automotive presence at CES was stronger than it was it 2019, and we saw a big focus on shared mobility and electric vehicles.
Automotive companies have been feeling demand from consumers for more environmentally sustainable transportation options. There are huge opportunities here — something that disruptors, especially in the shared mobility and electric vehicles (EV) space, have been acutely aware of.
Under the shared mobility umbrella, there were a few — albeit, a little far-fetched — concepts that stood out. While most of today’s consumers own or lease their vehicle, many seem to be ready to shift away from private ownership toward shared mobility as they look for more cost-effective, convenient and, of course, sustainable transportation options. As shared mobility service providers continue to gain widespread market acceptance, companies are going above and beyond the current service offerings, like ridesharing and micromobility, to deliver innovative solutions.
In fact, Bell and Hyundai/Uber shared their concepts for electric flying taxis at CES. Bell’s 2020 concept was modified, from last year’s concept, making it more production-ready than the previous iteration. Both the Bell and Hyundai/Uber flying taxi models boasted comparable specs: 60-mile ranges with speeds of between 150 and 180 mph. While this is quite exciting, there’s a lot to consider for these concepts to work properly within existing transportation systems, including infrastructure, regulations, security, and user acceptance and adoption.
In the meantime, the individual vehicle ownership model is still a major focal point for building a more sustainable future for mobility. As battery costs continue to drop and battery capacity continues to grow, EVs are helping to power a more environmentally sustainable future, but directionally the market is still five to six years away from mainstreaming electric vehicles. However, at this year’s CES we saw major players mapping a course to speed up the adoption process.
With Bosch’s electric vehicle powertrain, for example, we’re witnessing the beginnings of a new automotive trend. Since this powertrain is commercially available, it opens the door for startups and traditional OEMs to get to production faster by having a fully functioning battery, motors and controllers readily available.
Then, there was Sony’s concept electric car. While we’re not sure if the electronics and entertainment giant plans to enter the automotive manufacturing arena, their move was logical considering that the vehicle infotainment space is, for the most part, up for grabs.
There was a lot to be excited about at CES 2020’s automotive showcase. We saw an impressive collection of innovation and technological capabilities; however, businesses really need to focus on how people and existing systems are going to interact with these new innovations. While there’s no doubt that industry players are being thoughtful about consumer trends and demands as well as key business opportunities, it’s imperative that they also take a more holistic view of everything from the interior design and software, to infrastructure and systems, to win the automotive market.