Automotive 2019: Looking Back to Move Forward

Automobility LA sign for automotive 2019AutomobilityLA 2018 left us with a vision of where automotive 2019 is going — more in-vehicle experiences. Getting from Point A to Point B in unique, cool and riveting ways will always be key to what drives (no pun intended) car show previews, but instead of wowing attendees with last year’s spectacles — VR exhibits featuring upcoming film premieres, DJ’s spinning tunes so loud it felt like a death metal concert, customized truffles — measured and focused “User Experience” and “User Engagement” presentations ruled the conference.

It got us thinking how the days of luxury that defined such brands as Lincoln, Cadillac, Bentley, and Rolls Royce have grown beyond the real wood dashboard and gold-plated tuning knobs. Accessible indulgence makes the entire experience feel like today’s driver is being taken into consideration with car production in a wholly immersive way.

We’re not ones to usually opine here — our goal at v2gov.com is to present you “Just the facts, ma’am.” In our new year’s article, however, we decided you might like to know what we feel automotive 2019 holds based on what we experienced at AutomobilityLA 2018.

Road Tripping for Automotive 2019

Road trip collage for automotive 2019Yes, we know. Road trips have been around since there were, well, roads, but they haven’t always been in vogue for a variety of reasons — gas prices, slow economies, fascination with the friendly skies, etc. Over the last few years, however, we’ve noticed a great deal of emphasis placed on the revival of the Airstream Trailer, glamping, and turning the proverbial road trip into something that more people are willing to do even — and sometimes especially — if they only have a few days.

All of this is very appealing to Millennials and Generation Zers, consumers of choice for carmakers, especially with the drop in auto ownership across those two markets. There was so much shown at the conference that supported this continuing trend — Airstream given its own display, the new Prius presented as an AWD road tripping marvel — that we believe it’s a market that will only become more important for automotive 2019 and beyond.

Driving the “give-back”

charity and the auto industry into automotive 2019Considering the event took place in California within weeks of two of the worst brush fires in the state’s history, a proliferation of “we are here to support you” signs sprinkled throughout AutomobilityLA was not surprising. What was interesting, however, was how front and center many of the automakers made their commitment to overall charitable giving.

From the large Toyota Para-Olympics presence with its supporting vehicle to Subaru making your first experience with its exhibit their ASPCA and community involvement — which heavily plays on Subaru’s “LOVE” campaign — the desire to proclaim the stance of doing good was consistently driven home wherever you looked. While we can’t say for sure such overt motor vehicle-based philanthropy will continue into the automotive 2019 space, we believe it is a trend that will build moving forward.

Auto & Tech: Reaching Across the Innovation Aisle

automotive and tech partners into automotive 2019From day one of the conference, it became apparent that reaching across the innovation aisle is key to surviving automotive 2019. There’s still that level of mistrust for a variety of digital and technological advancements being pushed for vehicles. The general public seems to like how it all sounds, but actually owning/driving behind/being a passenger in a driverless vehicle? Not so much. How do you get people behind it when they still can’t equate someone like a Ford or Kia with lasers and artificial intelligence?

Partnerships are the basis of what’s to come as we move toward seeing actual, living Level 5 — fully self-driving, no human operator or even controls required — autonomous cars out there. Not testers, but ones that are driven by someone other than a Waymo or Uber employee. Tech companies still need help getting into the vehicle industry, and automobile professionals need help remaining relevant in the changing motor vehicle landscape. Automotive 2019 will show more of these matchups moving forward.

One classic goes while others thrive

retro styles come into automotive 2019In 2018 Volkswagen announced it would no longer manufacture its iconic Beetle by July of 2019. While that memorable car may be going, VW is bringing the wildly popular Bus into the 21st century and other automakers continue to embrace their past by offering upgraded versions of retro models for the automotive 2019 landscape — a 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt, anyone?

Retro love for Mustang into Automotive 2019

Photo Taken By Joe Ross from Lansing, Michigan – 2019 Ford Mustang “Bullitt” display — 2018 North American International Auto Show, Wikimedia Commons

The desire to return to and remain in the past with design and style just seems to be growing. With Porsche, that also means allowing its serious drivers to maintain control of their car — the German automaker will not pursue Level 5 autonomy. Sure, they’ll have some form of driver assist available, but they will never have a fully-autonomous 911. However, while Porsche has taken this stance it’s not to say like-style automakers are. That’s something we’re watching closely as automotive 2019 moves forward — that intersection between nostalgia and innovation.

Regardless, zero emissions and sedans still exist

sedans and zero emissions still the thing automotive 2019Contrary to what one of the world’s largest automakers announced days before the conference, exhibitors proved sedans and zero-emission models — with a proud add that many would still be made in America — were NOT a thing of the past. Seems the rest of the auto industry took the pre-show announcement as a call to action. Sure, there were tons of SUVs and a bunch of unique cars that looked nothing like the sedans of yesteryear, but plenty of 4-door and/or eco-friendly models were on display as well. For example, the unveiling of the Rivian all-electric duo of the R1T — a truck that holds 5 passengers — and the R1S — an SUV that ferries 7 and goes from 0 to 60 in 03 seconds was met with open mouth awe.

So, are sedans and green vehicles dead? Um, no. If anything, suppliers are reviving and innovating them to the point that everyday humans like you and I will be able to afford and want to buy them sooner rather than later.

Going beyond “self-driving”

U/X into automotive 2019User Experience, you win the “Most Likely to Succeed” of the world of automotive 2019. It’s all about turning your drive into something that goes beyond autonomy and all the way into enjoyment. How can you remind people of what it’s like to engage with their vehicle? Love the experience of, if not driving it then being in it? And how can you use your car for more than transportation?

Volvo blew us away by having no vehicles for preview at their exhibition. They actually had a sign that read, “Don’t Buy Our Cars” and walked attendees through the experiences you would gain through its partnerships and innovation. From Amazon deliveries made to your trunk to Luminar visibility to VR inside your car, Volvo — and others — was all about “you” — the driver, rider, the pedestrian walking or cyclist cycling beside the car and it’s obvious this engagement will only grow.

Innovation and individuality are alive and well

Innovation and individuality into automotive 2019Finally, the cool, the custom, the “think outside the box” were all on display. Cars have always been great canvases for personalization and it’s grown with technology. Extraordinarily beautiful vehicles that seemed impossible were touted — the Infinity Prototype 10 sort of freaked us out, but in a good way — as were all the options for turning your automobile of choice literally into the stuff of dreams.

Concept cars will always rear their headlights but what we’re loving is this immersive mentality of personalizing your piece of the road in a way that truly reflects you. And it goes far beyond just how your car looks and into how you choose to engage with that vehicle.

You can change your automobile as often as you change your clothes through service providers of car sharing, high-end vehicle subscriptions, and ride-hailing as well as unique ways to buy cars through smartphone apps. That innovation-driven individuality is, once again, appealing to Millennials and Generation Z. Automotive 2019 is poised for an opportunity like these to be more available and reinventing an industry that’s closing in on a century and a half old.

Goodbye, 2018. Hello, Automotive 2019

Volvo display Amazon highlight article conclusion automotive 2019Car ownership isn’t going away. Or, better yet, automobiles transporting people around on a personal level isn’t. As much as it seems like unique alternatives to what was once considered a rite of passage are taking over the automotive world, even they confirm that people still love motoring around. If AutomobilityLA and the last year have taught us anything, it’s that the motor vehicle isn’t disappearing. It’s growing up and leaving home to make its own way in the world.

And that, to us, is what automotive 2019 holds in our opinion — a lot of roads previously traveled but in more innovative ways. Sort of like a kid following in their parents’ footsteps but with their own POV. And isn’t that what the industry has always done? Take the old and make it not just new but beyond belief?

We think so and we look forward to more.

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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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