AutoMobility LA 2017: Vehicle Upstarts (Day 4)

Part Four of our four-part series recapping the summit’s four days of exhibits, announcements and interactivity

vehicle upstarts are center stage in Day 4

Day 4 of AutoMobility features alternatives to the car

As AutoMobility LA ended, the Los Angeles Auto Show prepared to begin. With that transition came some interesting vehicle upstarts — smaller car maker reveals and first time exhibitors, most of whom offered alternative fuels, specialty automobiles and various takes on the electric bicycle. It also brought about the last of the big car company announcements and a chance for summit attendees to browse the various exhibits at their leisure.

One of the iconic vehicle upstarts kicks off the green revolution

one of the iconic vehicle upstarts shows off alt fuel

Toyota’s Tri-Gen facility overview and hydrogen burning semi

The first of the vehicle upstarts was one of the largest automakers — Toyota. The Japanese car company was the featured vehicle maker of the last morning of AutoMobility LA and presented its innovative future vision in a big way. Toyota has made no secret about its belief that hydrogen fuel cell technology is the wave of the future. They recently deployed a fully functional Class A semi-truck that towed 80,000 pounds of freight only powered by hydrogen, which has just started being used throughout the Los Angeles area. The legendary company proved it maintains its position as one of the most storied vehicle upstarts with the announcement. It also enhanced to its role as an innovator with alternative fuels by revealing it is also opening a new facility in Long Beach, California, called Tri-Gen, which will be the first megawatt sized carbon fuel-cell power generation plant with hydrogen fuel in the world. It will use California agricultural waste, hydrogen and water to generate electricity. It will be able to generate enough power to light up 350 average sized homes and renew the fuel cells of 1500 vehicles.

This announcement was soon followed by the awarding of the 2018 Green Car of the Year sponsored by Green Car Journal. The finalists were:

  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Clarity
  • Hyundai Ioniq
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Toyota Camry

The Honda Clarity — arriving at dealerships nationwide on December 1st — earned the top spot. Other awards for 2018 Green SUV of the Year, 2018 Green Connected Car of the Year and 2018 Green Luxury Car of the Year will be announced at the Washington Auto Show in January.

Nissan channels the Force

vehicle upstarts like Nissan create experiences

Imperial Storm Troopers guard Nissan’s reveal

Another of the iconic vehicle upstarts, Nissan, expanded on its relationship with the galaxy far, far away. Although the auto giant announced its partnership with the Star Wars franchise the day before, this was a day when the carmaker was able to share more about the collaboration. With the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi releasing in theaters on December 15th, Nissan has committed to creating immersive experiences of VR and AR in various dealerships around the country that take customers into the Star Wars universe while in the showroom. To heighten this, the company brought out stormtroopers and a souped up Nissan Titan that incorporated the features of the Imperial Walkers.

vehicle upstarts go all in for effect

Nissan Titan gets an Imperial walker makeover

The new guard, customization and retro cool

the vehicle upstarts show off their wares

The final day of the summit included smaller vehicle companies presenting unique options in the automotive and transportation space. These intriguing vehicle upstarts included:

  • Reds from Redspace, a fully electric prototype built to deal with the issues of the Megacities of China like
  • Polaris Slingshot, which introduced a new class of vehicle called the autocycle that offers all the benefits of a motorcycle without requiring a motorcycle license and was demo’d by NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace
  • Saleen, a boutique carmaker with 30 years under his belt introducing two new high-powered, luxury class sports cars
  • Sondors, an electric 3-seater inspired by a walk along the beach to be offered at a cost of only $10,000 and in the midst of seeking funding through crowdsourcing
  • Ampere, the 2-seater electric vehicle going for $9,900
  • Electric bicycles/scooters ranging from foldable (URB-E) to sleek (Propella) to retro-styling (Phantom Bikes)

It was also a time to indulge in a walk through The Garage, a place to show off all things customized and aftermarket, and the Galpin Auto Sports’ exhibit promoting its customization prowess. These two areas were a reminder of the power of the car and how much it still energizes, inspires and draws us.

vehicle upstarts keep customization alive

Galpin Auto Works and The Garage show off customization

vehicle upstarts pump up nostalgia

A tricked-out Mach IV from Galpin Auto Works

The last day was a seamless melding of the old and the new, proof that being one of the vehicle upstarts is more the rule than the exception as all were reminded of the auto revolution that’s no longer coming, but here. Even as things move forward, those things that are held dear by the old guard are influencing the new, and are finding ways to utilize the world of autonomy and alternative fuels to their benefit rather than let it throw them off their games.

A bridge from the past to the future

the old and the new of vehicle upstarts

Clockwise from top left: Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Exhibit; Subaru 50th Anniversary timeline; Honda NeuV concept – utilizes AI and the “emotion engine” to detect and learn from drivers’ emotions and past decisions to suggest reactions to road conditions; Toyota 2018 FV2 concept — like the Honda NeuV, uses AI to detect driver’s emotions and assist in reactions based on past operator performance

AutoMobility made it clear that the goal in automotive revolution is not just to prepare us all for the inevitability of pure autonomous driving, hydrogen/electric cars, and fleets of rideshares that make our own vehicles obsolete. It also acknowledges that the love of the automobile as we know it is not only not going away anytime soon, but could very well keep growing.

the old guard proving they're still vehicle upstarts

The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan — America’s first; Volkswagen Buzz concept

Such stalwarts as the Chrysler Pacifica mini-van entering the 21st century by offering the first hybrid in its class for 2018, and the Volkswagen Buzz, an electric microbus version of the beloved VW Minibus slated for a 2022 release, prove that this bridging of yesterday and today are taking place to exciting results. The car appears to be here to stay, and AutoMobility LA shows that by embracing the revolution at hand and the unique players who are entering it as never before, the auto industry has an opportunity to become much stronger in the long run.

 

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AutoMobility LA 2017: Embrace Vehicle Revolution (Day 2)

Part Two of our four-part series recapping the summit’s four days of exhibits, announcements and interactivity

the vehicle revolution continues on day 2

Day 2 of AutoMobility LA 2017

The second day of AutoMobility LA proved to be all about preparing the auto industry for the profound changes here and to come. It included looking at driverless futures, alternative fuels, more inclusive service for consumers, and broaching concerns about declining car sales, among other things. The entire day was an information fest that brought about a great deal of good conversation during breaks. Some of the highlights featured key players in the automobile industry and thought-leaders in tech clearly showing us all that the vehicle revolution is at hand.

vehicle revolution BMW style

Board Member of BMW Group, Peter Schwarzenbauer, presents the future

2021 is the magic year for BMW

BMW will launch autonomous vehicles by 2021, and is currently offering car sharing through its DriveNow and ReachNow services in Europe and select U.S. cities, respectively.

Hyundai partners to bring service your way

Hyundai expands on its innovative BlueLink with Smartcar, and presents partnerships with Washos and WaiveCar

Hyundai has entered into partnerships with the Mountain View, California, startup Smartcar (not SmartCar from Daimler, but Smartcar, a connected car API for developers), which expands the automaker’s BlueLink service, WaiveCar — a free electric car sharing service accessed via an app on your smartphone — and Washos, a mobile car washing program that comes to wherever you are to wash your car. All of this is to make owning a Hyundai even more appealing.

Dealers and the Vehicle Revolution: Nothing to fear, but ourselves

dealers embrace the vehicle revolution

Four heavy hitters in the world of automotive sales discussed concerns over the changing landscape of vehicle ownership. All announced this is a dream time for dealers, not a time to give in to fear. Opportunities for transforming car dealing and engagement have never been more expansive. By embracing rather than denying these changes and the vehicle revolution as a whole, dealers are poised to become more valuable to both car buyers and the industry in general rather than less. Some ideas on how to work within this new normal were: flexibility in ownership, subscription models — the ability to flip your car as often as you like during a lease term; manufacturers building stronger relationships with their dealers; establishing dealers as experts in the new technologies so that consumers trust them as the go-to when in need of assistance with autonomy and alternative fuels; and optimizing and personalizing the automobile business by putting a stronger focus on that consumer/dealer relationship while bringing actual transaction times down to no more than five minutes to complete.

Waymo sets the standard

Waymo leads the way in the vehicle revolution

CEO of Waymo, John Krafcik

Twenty-three different cities, over four million miles on public roads and 25,000 cars running in a simulated environment show that Waymo has been setting the standard all autonomous and driverless vehicle makers follow since 2009. CEO John Krafcik discussed the challenges of weather, Waymo’s partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), and the fact that the company’s sole purpose is to create a “proper driverless car.” Not shying away from the hurdles autonomous vehicles are facing, Krafcik stood behind the need to keep testing, and the belief that the transmitter bubble on top of the car provides a level of trust and comfort to potential riders/drivers.

Toyota discovers a happy medium

TRI comes to terms with autonomy

Gil Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute (TRI) presents his team’s findings

Gil Pratt, the CEO of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) took a look through the different autonomous driving options Toyota is investigating — Guardian and Chauffeur. Guardian is a driver assist program while Chauffeur manages the drive completely.

Looking at the pros and cons of both as he discussed where autonomy is going and what makes the most sense for it, Pratt announced that Guardian is the path TRI is taking as the think tank moves forward with connected vehicles.

WayRay wins the day

WayRay named number 1

WayRay wins Grand Prize and an onstage mentoring session

The second day of AutoMobility LA included a presentation of the award for the winner of the 2017 Top Ten Automotive Startups. The honor went to WayRay, an innovative heads-up display system that is more interactive, easier to navigate and takes up less space on your car’s windshield.

Personal, private flying machines and a pop culture dream come true

Back to the Future brought to life

The DeLorean DR7-VTOL aircraft

Among the notable presentations was one featuring two innovative companies looking into personal flying machines, a vivid reminder that a real vehicle revolution is taking place. Sandi Adam, CMO for Zunum Aero, a company that plans to bring hybrid electric flight to the masses in 2022, was joined by Paul DeLorean, the CEO of DeLorean Aerospace, makers of what many say will be the first flying car. If the Paul DeLorean name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the nephew of John DeLorean, whose iconic metal car took Marty McFly Back to the Future in the 1980s.

Food for thought

AutoMobility LA ended its second day with a networking mixer that allowed for further discussion on the new ideas presented and what a vehicle revolution means for the industry. With all of the information that had been shared, there was a great deal of anticipation for day three when exhibits would be opened and the ability to experience some of the hardware mentioned over the first two days would be possible.

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