How Consumer Electronics Are Radically Redesigning Our Cars

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VW's concept vehicle designed around consumer electronics using electric + autonomous driving technologies

VW’s concept vehicle designed around consumer electronics using electric + autonomous driving technologies

Stop thinking of cars as a motor and wheels. Instead, think of cars in terms of computer chips, graphic cards and batteries. It is consumer electronics, rather than mechanical systems like combustion engines, that will define our vehicles in the 21st Century.

The players driving the consumer electronics car revolutions

The consumer electronics revolution in car design was on full display at the Consumer Electronics Show and the North American International Auto Show. Here is the list of the companies, and their technologies, that stole the headlines:

  • Car manufacturers. All of the auto manufacturers are introducing cars designed around consumer electronics. For example, GM’s all electric Chevy Bolt won NAIAS car of the year. However, all is not good among car manufacturers. Their culture is being challenged by the speed and scale of innovation in consumer electronics. Auto manufacturers are now opening offices in Silicon Valley in an attempt to keep pace with this technology center’s ability to commercialize disruptive technologies.
  • Google, Tesla and Uber. Silicon Valley companies like Google, Tesla and Uber are driving the autonomous vehicle revolution. Autonomous cars are based on prediction software that converts big data into machine learning. Connecting machines that can learn to an Internet of Things (IoT) mesh is the platform for autonomous vehicle operations. Autonomous driving holds the potential of shifting consumer interest away from the driving experience and toward convenience, point to point speed, digital connectivity and lower cost.
  • Intel, Nvidia and Amazon. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the emerging disruptive technology that will reshape our homes, offices, factories, vehicles and lives. Companies like Intel and Nvidia are AI chip leaders. AI chips power AI devices like Amazon’s Alexa. Alexa is the current product sales leader in linking humans to IoT. Auto manufacturers like Ford are experimenting with how to connect their cars to Alexa.
  • Uber and Lyft (now owned by GM). Ride sharing services, available at the touch of a smart phone, are undermining vehicle ownership’s economics and convenience. The commercial future is an an algorithm that will enable on-demand delivery of an autonomous vehicle. Clicking an app will deliver an autonomous vehicle. It can be whatever you need, a car or truck or van. It will take you where you want to go and then park itself awaiting your return. Or it will move on to another human if you no longer need it. All of this will be at a consumer cost that is lower than ownership.
  • Urban Millennials. Urban millennials will create the demand for vehicles designed as consumer electronics. These millennials want mobility as a service because it will cost less than owning, maintaining and parking a car. They will want it to be electric because this aligns with their values for less urban air pollution. They will love the convenience and increased productivity gained from riding in an autonomous vehicle. And they will want to buy it via their smart phone or wearable rather than a dealership.

Mega cities will drive demand for cars designed around consumer electronics

Mega cities will be the early adopter location for vehicles designed as a consumer electronic.

Ford’s Future Trends research projects 41 mega cities with populations of at least 10 million citizens by 2030. Combined, these cities will have a larger population than the United States. Their annual gross domestic production will rival our entire country’s economy.

But mega city economic productivity is constrained by congestion and air pollution. The consumer electronics being introduced into vehicles can solve these mega city challenges:

  1. Moving people faster. Eliminating mega city traffic congestion will be the financial driver for consumer, and city government, adoption of cars designed around consumer electronics. The tech world is working on autonomous driving vehicles working together as a swarm connected through a smart city mesh. Think WiFi and computers. Applying that tech path to our cities and cars will dramatically reduce traffic congestion.
  2. Lowering costs. Electric autonomous cars will cost less to operate and maintain within a mega city compared to today’s dumb combustion engine vehicles. Electricity costs less than a gasoline gallon equivalent. Autonomous vehicles eliminate driver costs. Smart cars will have fewer (zero?) traffic accidents, reducing city government costs.
  3. Enhancing human health. People wearing face masks due to fossil fuel emissions is the visual image for too many mega cities. Electric autonomous cars will have zero tailpipe emissions.
  4. Increasing economic productivity. Autonomous cars will enable passenger productivity. The daily commute will become another location for digital connectivity among work associates. Now imagine this productivity game-changer, an autonomous Amazon truck that uses onboard drones to deliver packages!

Jeff Powers #GeekPower

The Consumer Electronic Show is now a showcase of companies introducing vehicles designed around consumer electronics.Jeff Power is highly followed on social media as #geekout. Here is his review from this year’s CES on how our cars are becoming consumer electronic devices:

About the author

Bill Roth is a clean tech pioneer who led the team that launched the first hydrogen fueled Prius. He is a featured contributor on Triple Pundit and Latin Business Today. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, has been used by thousands of business people to implement proven green best practices that make money and a difference. Bill’s latest book, The Boomer Generation Diet, is his personal story on how to achieve sustained weight loss while still having fun and living more. The book’s ten customizable best practices are the sustainable solutions to our national weight crisis that threatens our health and medical cost bankruptcy.

About Bill Roth

Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017, author of The Secret Green Sauce and a nationally-followed contributor to, Triple Pundit, The Green Economy Post and Media Post on best business practices emerging from the smart, healthy and green global economy. He coaches entrepreneurs, business and community leaders on how to grow revenues, profits and jobs by going smart and green.
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