Automotive USA 2023: Day 1 Highlights and Industry Insights

Our analysts are on-site at the Reuters Events’ Automotive USA 2023. Below are their quick notes from Day 1 of the event. Discussions centered on electrification, AI in manufacturing, digital transformation, EV Charging Networks, Monolithic Power Systems, General Motors’ global strategies, in-cabin experiences, EV battery technologies, sustainability, and subscription services. Additionally, we bring you exclusive insights from interviews with Chrysler and Ford, outlining their strategies for revitalization, digital sales, sustainability, and advancements in EV charging networks. Stay tuned for more updates as we delve deeper into these crucial discussions shaping the future of the automotive industry.

Reuters Interview with Chrysler

  • Revitalizing the Chrysler brand
    • Aiming to revamp the brand with new EV products and phase out of ICE.
    • Differentiation in the crowded EV market through sustainable products, design & and customer experience.
  • Digitizing car sales
    • Experimenting with digital sales and onboarding processes.
    • Dealerships may need to rethink their approach by creating value, not extracting margins.
  • Brand expansion and tech sharing
    • Moving beyond sedans with a new concept to be revealed early next year.
    • Could leverage Sterling’s global reach and tech across Europe.

Reuters Interview with Ford

  • Green policy retreat across Europe and the US
    • Highlights the need for stable policies.
    • Importance of aligning policy with market needs and compelling products.
  • Energy policy, efficiency, and tech adoption
    • Ford shifting to hybrid technology, prioritizing customer choice and sustainability.
    • Electrification is especially compelling for commercial customers who demand lower maintenance costs and efficient operations.
  • EV supply chains and investor expectations
    • EV supply chains different from ICE – need support for less China-centricity, infra development, and manufacturing diversification.
    • OEMs investing in organizations and partnerships to track and trace raw materials, share best practices and improve capital efficiency.
    • Investors expect Ford to prioritize climate goals, despite market volatility.
  • Sustainability and safety
    • Ford’s goal to reduce greenhouse gases and supply chain emissions by 76% and 50%, respectively, by 2035.
    • Driving automation: Prioritizing safety through things like driver engagement monitoring and feedback strategies.

EV Charging Networks

  • EV charging for commercial fleets
    • Growing infrastructure while providing savings and reduced maintenance costs.
    • Commercial customers may not be at the same adoption stage as enterprise customers.
    • Partnerships with charge point operators (CPOs) and developers for fleets and dual-use trucking clubs crucial for adoption.
    • Collaboration among industry groups and OEMs is crucial for successful implementation.
    • OEMs need to adapt relationships with commercial fleets to change the EV landscape and prioritize optimization and uptime.
  • EV charging tech and standards
    • Government agencies investing in infra; OEMs can participate by treating stations like vending machines to generate revenue.
    • Consumer feedback is crucial in location identification – providing this to CPOs can help them make more profitable decisions.
  • Challenges
    • Standardization and interoperability; and relatedly, collaboration between policymakers, regulators and industry players for the democratization of infra.

Monolithic Power Systems: Innovation in Power Management for SDVs 

  • Software-defined vehicles (SDVs) and electrification
    • Electrification requires fundamental changes in architecture and mindset – helping to drive SDV.
    • In fact, SDV is becoming the foundation for electrification as it enables communication between vehicles, charging stations and the energy ecosystem.
    • Current limitations of today’s sensor technologies highlight the need for failsafe thinking and monitoring, especially in areas without camera coverage.
    • Digital cockpits and centralized compute systems could help further monetization beyond initial vehicle sales – present-day examples include Lane Keeping assistance and software subscriptions.
  • Consolidating processor types in vehicles
    • Evolution of automotive chips with a new consolidated ‘super chip’ expected to dominate – existing chips are limited with only top-of-the-line vehicles having advanced video processing; centralized processing still lacking.
  • Considerations around autonomous driving
    • Costs to developing in-house, need for tight coordination across software, power vendors and other stakeholders to evolve the ecosystem.
    • Potential for more frequency of use as ADAS advances also highlights the need for ensuring better reliability in automotive electronics with a 15-year lifespan, mid-lifecycle technology insertion.
  • Power management and redundancy in electronic systems
    • Aging is caused by three factors – voltage, current, and temperature.
    • Reliability, faster device creation, and scalability across entry-level to premium.
    • Power management in electronics design – intelligent power modules can help manage thermal issues, optimize for high-frequency systems, and provision the ‘battery front end.’
    • Importance of data gathering to enable machine learning to develop baseline models for aging electronic systems.

Electrification, Infrastructure, and Digital Transformation in the Automotive Industry

  • Electric Vehicle Adoption
    • Recognizing exposure to electric vehicles as pivotal in encouraging widespread adoption, emphasizing the need for awareness and education.
    • Underlining the vital role of infrastructure, encompassing reliable charging stations and seamless charging experiences, with a specific focus on accommodating multi-unit dwellings.
  • Software Development Challenges
  • Navigating the intricacies of electric vehicle technology and software development, exploring revenue streams through software-defined services like charging and dynamic car insurance.
  • Addressing the delicate balance between integrating with existing platforms (CarPlay/Android Auto) and crafting personalized end-to-end experiences, prioritizing customer data security and personalization.
  • Digital Transformation Strategies
    • Emphasizing collaboration and holistic strategies as the linchpin for successful digital transformation in the automotive sector.

Role of AI and ML in Optimizing Manufacturing Processes

  • Predictive Precision
    • Delving into the applications of AI and ML in predictive maintenance, quality control, and asset condition monitoring, ensuring operational efficiency.
    • Infrastructure Foundation: Stressing the importance of robust infrastructure as the bedrock for successful digital transformation, requiring thorough assessment and support.

General Motors International Update

– Global Expansion

  • Outlining General Motors’ strategic re-entry into Europe with an electric vehicle portfolio, leveraging past experiences for efficient global scale entry, with a focus on direct-to-consumer models.

– Market Strategies

  • Highlighting GM’s successful foray in Australia, unveiling plans to introduce Silverado and Corvette models, and positioning the company in the competitive global pickup truck market.

Advancing the In-cabin Experience Panel

  • HMI and Software Development for Electric Vehicles
    • Intuitive Design: Stressing the importance of presenting information in a simple and intuitive manner through Human-Machine Interface (HMI) for software-defined vehicles.
    • Catering to Diverse Needs: Recognizing the varied needs of different customer segments and geographies when designing infotainment systems, catering to Western and Chinese customer preferences.
    • Interactive Systems: Addressing the need for interactive and powerful systems adaptable to different consumer generations, citing customer surveys emphasizing the significance of HMI and infotainment systems in purchase decisions.
  • In-car Entertainment and Technology
    • Customer Engagement: Capturing customers’ excitement for software updates and immersive experiences, including VR gaming, live sports streaming, and personalized spaces for multi-generational families in China, enhancing in-car entertainment.

EV Battery Discussion

  • Battery Technology and Supply Chain Challenges
    • Cathode Innovations: Discussing the focus on cathode mineral selections as EV adoption surges, aiming for low-cost, fast-charging, and high thermal rate batteries.
    • Solid-state Batteries: Recognizing the potential of solid-state batteries in the industry, coupled with challenges in risk mitigation, efficiency improvement, fast charging, and stability.
    • Future Challenges: Addressing potential challenges arising from future battery demand outstripping supply, impacting costs and availability, emphasizing the need for scaling and infrastructure development.

Sustainability and Subscription Services

  • Long-term Sustainability
  • Emphasizing the significance of long-term strategies in the automotive sector, specifically concerning battery warranty and recycling efforts.
  • Subscription Service Potential
  • Exploring the potential of subscription services in the automotive industry, including innovative energy subscription packages for electric vehicles, aiming for enhanced customer experiences and sustainable practices.
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