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: Revealing Car Exhibits (Day 3)

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

Car exhibits open at AutoMobility Day 3

Day 3 of AutoMobility LA kicks off with vintage car exhibits

Beginning in the early morning with a walk down vehicle memory lane, AutoMobility LA’s third day focused on auto reveals, announcements and interactivity. Car exhibits opened and the experience provided by each automaker was meant to engage you in the automobiles they were touting as intensely and immersive as possible. Several unique partnerships were unveiled, and gamification and VR played heavily throughout.

Nissan embraces entertainment with car exhibits

Nissan’s interactive Star Wars display

Nissan offered a VR simulator in which summit goers could “repair” a Bb-8 unit from Star Wars. Chevrolet had a stand where you could choose one of its models to design your own car.

car exhibits display immersive experiences

Acura provides virtual reality racing while Nissan entertains with Robert Delong

How each new announcement was made at each of the car exhibits reflected the brand — Lincoln presented its new Nautilus crossover after treating all those who attended to a live set of a piano accompanied torch singer, champagne, imported cheeses and personalized chocolate truffles with the Lincoln logo emblazoned on them. Lexus projected a sleek trailer featuring actress Minnie Driver — the voice of Lexus. Nissan’s brief but energetic reveal of the new Kicks, a $19,000 two-tone Rogue-like five-seater, was preceded by the electronic musical stylings of singer Robert Delong performing live. And Hyundai had a DJ mixing and spinning in the minutes leading up to its media event.

The key to everything on this third day was customer service. Concierge and personal service played huge roles with many of the car exhibits and brand goals, as did alternative fuels and more connectivity as ways to engage consumers. In some cases, returning to the roots that built a brand to ensure fans knew they were not forgotten was important and as Day 3 began, it was clear the auto industry was preparing for and proactively addressing the future.

Intel entertains autonomy

car exhibits highlight autonomy

Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel, discusses the company’s driverless future

AutoMobility LA began the morning with a talk by Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich. Autonomous is a huge investment for intel and they have set up a variety of partnerships as they look at the future of autonomy and how this not only affects how people drive, but cities themselves. To that end, they will be rolling out 100 driverless cars as a test, partnering with Waymo to target Level 4 & 5 driving. In this new normal for Intel, the company has also partnered with Warner Bros. (WB) Entertainment to bring an even more immersive experience to autonomous vehicles. Riders will be able to have their windshields and surrounding windows filled with trailers, movies, animations, and basically be surrounded by WB content. One of the 100 cars being tested is earmarked as a pilot for this new partnership.

Mercedes brings Formula One to the streets

Mercedes’ announcement included a big move forward in its goal to develop for alternative fuels and staying true to its automotive legacy. First, the establishment of EQ, the new brand that stands for intelligent electric mobility — a comprehensive electric eco-system that focuses as much on personal service as it does technology, innovations and products. The goal is to produce electric cars by 2022 and EQ SUVs will be made in the company’s Tuscaloosa, Alabama, plant, creating over 600 new jobs in the area.

car exhibits present unique transport

The Mercedes-AMG Project One, the world’s first street legal Formula One

Tobias Moers, Chief Executive of Mercedes-AMG, announced the first street legal Formula One car in history with the AMG Project One.

Porsche returns to high-performance basics

car exhibits unveil a return to roots

The 2018 Porsche 911 T Carrera

Perhaps one of the most alluring car exhibits exuding an air of immense anticipation was that of iconic carmaker, Porsche, set up in its own limited access showroom. In addition to a new 718 GTS, Panamera hybrid and Cayenne, Porsche presented its new 911 T Carrera. It is a return to its down and dirty high-performance, powerful roots.

Mazda goes upscale

Mazda seeks to enter luxury with its car exhibits

The Mazda Vision Coupe and updated 2018 Mazda6

Mazda has long been perceived as an economical brand that offers good rebates. At AutoMobility LA, the carmaker announced both its Vision Coupe — a sleeker version of its iconic RX7 — and the Mazda6, two upscale models meant to move the company into the luxury market. It is an attempt to change perception and allow them to compete with the higher end brands.

Nissan: May the Force awaken the Last Jedi

car exhibits entertain

Nissan presents Kicks, its two-tone take on the iconic Rogue, and a partnership with Star Wars

As car exhibits go, Nissan’s was among the most interactive. The two-tone Kicks wasn’t the only big announcement from the Japanese carmaker. Not only did Nissan offer VR droid repair simulations, but announced its partnership with Star Wars: The Last Jedi by presenting various refurbished car models in the Star Wars vein.

car exhibits from Nissan's Star Wars partnership

Nissan’s souped-up Star Wars themed vehicles

A promise of even more information on this new partnership at the fourth and final day of AutoMobility LA was made by Nissan.

Car exhibits reflect entertainment partnerships 

Lexus also discussed its much touted partnership with Marvel’s Black Panther franchise, sharing its limited edition LC featuring the Black Panther logo on the hood. Film, television, and gaming intersected loudly at the summit — another feature employed by just about every one of the car exhibits in some form or another — and were clear indications of how instrumental and fertile these partnerships are to the continued success and appeal of the auto industry.

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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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AutoMobility LA 2017: Securing Our Autonomous Future (Day 1)

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

The 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show kicked off on Friday, December 1st, promising some stellar exhibits, surprise announcements and an immersive motor vehicle experience for all who attend. The show is celebrating its 110th year and has expanded from just 99 cars in Morley’s Skating Rink in Ocean Park, Los Angeles, back in 1907 to taking over virtually every available space of the Los Angeles Convention Center in the city’s Downtown area. However, for those interested in learning even more about what’s coming in the future of cars and the automotive industry as a whole, there is a show before the show in the form of AutoMobility LA, four days of announcements, thought provoking conferences, and first looks at innovative cars.

AutoMobility LA sets the stage from Day 1

AutoMobility LA entered its second year as it took place from November 27 – 30. It was a mecca for those curious about the intersection of technology and cars as well as hoping for a peek at what auto companies have up their sleeves for the future. Over the course of four days, AutoMobility LA covered everything from concerns about cyberhacking in the connected car space to Porsche’s return to its roots and more while also acting as an intensive primer on where the industry is headed.

Secure Mobility jumpstarts discussion

AutoMobility LA 2017’s first day was kicked off by the day long Secure Mobility Summit. This informational conference focused on cyber-security for connected cars and, most specifically, driverless vehicles in general.

Presented by Suits & Spooks founder, Jeffrey Carr, in conjunction with Car and Driver and other sponsors, Secure Mobility included several featured speakers and highlighted five key takeaways:

1 — Get In Front of the Breach

Every car maker is aware that as automobiles become more sophisticated, these machines are more vulnerable to tech savvy interference. Waiting for something to happen rather than being getting in front of it will only lead to worse problems down the line.

2 — Willingness to Invest

Comprehensive security of a car’s technology is expensive. But as each and every speaker said, the cost of NOT doing anything far outweighs being proactive in staving off a cyber-attack before it happens.

3 — Share Information

Auto manufacturers need to trust their competitors with any information that will lead to keeping everyone safe in their cars. Holding back intel regarding hacking of a system or a discovery on how to stop an attack can lead to the entire industry being brought down.

4 — Assume your car is always connected

Any car produced after a certain year is connected to the web in some way. Hands free talking through your dashboard, an insurance fob plugged into your onboard diagnostics (OBD) port, and that cool infotainment system connect you to the outside world. Your vehicle’s ability to communicate with the internet of things (IOT) means a constantly open digital doorway. However, there’s good news.

5 — Vehicle cyber attacks are DIFFICULT

Some basic internal configurations are shared across all vehicles, true, but ultimately, all those things that define a model’s specific operating system as being different from another model are what also makes them difficult to crack inside. It means if you really want to break into a system to bring a vehicle down, you need to learn everything there is to know about that particular auto’s OS and determine its weaknesses. It’s not so easy to take a car offline, although while a presenter was talking, his cohort was able to hack a navigation system as a demonstration on how quickly and easily GPS’s can be compromised with the right information and tools. Individual cars are generally well-protected, and as they continue to innovate, so does their security. However, commercial fleets share the same OS across a broad range of vehicles, and concern is high on how to ensure thousands of trucks and vans aren’t attacked all at once.

Shared cyber-security responsibility

Most of the ownness on protecting connected cars is on the auto industry, but as consumers of motor vehicles, there must be something we can do. When Sanchi Jayarami, Chief of Investment and Engagement at the National Security Division (NSD) — part of the Department of Justice (DOJ) — was asked what vehicle owners can do to secure their automobiles, she pointed to the risks and concerns discussed and said, “My parents said, ‘This is why we don’t use an ATM and we go into the bank to talk to a person.’ They’re not wrong. It’s important people read about what their car can do. How it works.”

Sanchi added, “I know it’s hard because of all the small print, but they’ve got to do it so they know how their information is being used and how they can protect it. And it’s important for companies to educate their consumers.”

As the first day came to an end, it was clear that the brilliance of the driverless cars and connected vehicles in general is as much a benefit as it is a concern. Both automakers and consumers need to be ready for what the future holds with more innovation, higher level technology, the reach of artificial intelligence (AI) in motor vehicles and the new players coming into the space. Each needs to be responsible for protecting and knowing their vehicles in order to be ready to do whatever is necessary to keep themselves and those they encounter on the road safe.

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