Welcome to another edition of The Future of Automotive, with Steve Greenfield, Founder, and CEO of Automotive Ventures, an auto technology advisory firm that helps entrepreneurs raise money and maximize the value of their companies.
We had a few interesting items pop up in this week’s news cycle that are worth noting, as they have significance to the big automotive industry trends that we’re tracking and that auto dealers should be paying attention to.
So let’s dive right in.
First up this week, Ford Motor Company has submitted a patent that envisions a future where the vehicle could repossess itself.
As the next wave of vehicles are potentially full-self-driving enabled, it’s not too much of a stretch to envision this actually happening in some cases.
According to Ford’s patent application, there would be several warnings from the vehicle before the system initiated a formal repossession. If these warnings were ignored, the car could begin to lose functionality ahead of a repo.
The first lost functions would be minor inconveniences like “cruise control, automated window controls, automated seat controls, and some components of the infotainment system.” The next level would get more serious, including the loss of things like “the air conditioning system, a remote key fob, and an automated door lock/unlock system.” Likewise, an “incessant and unpleasant sound” may be turned on “every time the owner is present in the vehicle.”
If all of that doesn’t yield a car owner making their late payment, then the big guns came come out.
The consumer could first be locked out of their car. If the bank needs to initiate a repossession, the autonomous or semi-autonomous cars might make this process a lot easier for the bank.
First of all, it says the vehicle will use its onboard sensors to detect whether or not it’s in a garage. If it isn’t, then the car could, without the owner being aware, repossess itself or drive somewhere nearby to avoid a confrontation with the repossessor.
It’s a brave new world that we’re entering here, folks.
News this last week that all new cars sold in New Jersey will have to be zero emission from 2035 onward, according to Governor Phil Murphy.
The NJ Department of Environmental Protection called for a gas car sales ban by 2035 back in October 2020. Murphy’s new executive orders are the next step down this path. The new EV regulations will be complete by the end of 2023.
New Jersey joins New York, California, and the European Union in ending new gas vehicle sales by 2035.
Finally this week, many owners of electric cars have wished for a battery pack that could power their vehicle for more than a thousand miles on a single charge.
Researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have developed a lithium-air battery that could make that dream a reality. The team’s new battery design could also one-day power domestic airplanes and long-haul trucks.
The main new component in this lithium-air battery is a solid electrolyte instead of the usual liquid variety. Batteries with solid electrolytes are not subject to the safety issue with the liquid electrolytes used in lithium-ion and other battery types, which can overheat and catch fire.
More importantly, the team’s battery chemistry with the solid electrolyte can potentially boost the energy density by as much as four times above lithium-ion batteries, which translates into longer driving range.
The main resistance to EV adoption is the combination of range anxiety, EV charger availability, and charging speed. Dramatically better battery chemistry may greatly alleviate consumer concerns about both range and speed of charging.
So, there you have it. The news cycle continues to deliver noteworthy items that may have a material impact on auto dealers. This continues to shape up to be a very important year that will influence the Future of Automotive for years to come.
Companies To Watch
Every week we highlight interesting companies in the automotive technology space to keep an eye on. If you read my monthly industry Intel Report, which you can subscribe to for free, I showcase a few companies each month, and we take the opportunity here on this segment to share some of those companies each week with you.
Today, we have two companies to watch: Solutios and BusRight.
Solutios offers dealer-centric merchant card processing, digital payments, and FinTech solutions. They dramatically reduce interchange fees, create a dealer-owned merchant card processing “ecosystem”, transparent reporting, an automated reconciliation process, and offer PCI compliance, risk monitoring, and IT security.
The reason that I love Solutios is that this is a brilliant solution, built by dealers for dealers. Early adopting dealer customers are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars already, and there will be network effects, meaning even greater savings, as more dealers join as customers.
You can check out Solutios at www.SolutiosTech.com.
BusRight offers a software platform that delivers safe & efficient school bus management. The product enhances student safety, streamlines bus communication, and manages routes at the touch of a button.
The reason that I love BusRight is they’re bringing technology to an area of the transportation ecosystem that has been VERY slow to adopt. There is a chronic shortage of school bus drivers, and the market is big. Nationally, 26 million children in the U.S. take 480,000 buses to and from school each day.
You can check out BusRight at www.BusRight.com.
So that’s it for this week’s Future of Automotive segment.
If you’re an AutoTech entrepreneur working on a solution that helps car dealerships, we want to hear from you. We are actively investing out of our new DealerFund.
If you’re a dealer who wants to invest in early-stage AutoTech companies that benefit your business, let me know. We are still accepting new investors into the DealerFund.
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And don’t forget to check out my book, The Future of Automotive Retail on Amazon.com.
Thank you for tuning into CBT News for this week’s Future of Automotive segment, and we’ll see you next week!