The global automotive market is more than 100-years-old and generates over $9 trillion of revenue annually, yet the industry has seen very few major advancements since the early years. During the past century, vehicle fundamentals, including functionality, features and overall system design, have remained relatively the same.
Much of this stagnation has come from the top. Bob Lutz, a former executive at BMW and GM, once said, “…you can’t show me one company in the world that, to date, has made a nickel on electric cars…” Though the Big Three auto makers have made some investments in autonomous-drive technology, Lutz’s voice still represents the general attitude of the auto industry – loudly resistant to change.
This resistance is creating a gap for Silicon Valley and others in the tech industry. Technology innovators are already starting to look for more than simple engines, transmissions and fuel-control systems. Appetites are shifting towards advanced battery technology, artificial intelligence and software control systems. As it is, the current auto industry has essentially little or no experience in developing such high-tech vehicles—which has opened the door for competition. Enter Alphabet (Google), Apple and a range of new startups, who are already aggressively pursuing the market with self-driving and autonomous car technology.
Alphabet, with Google as its subsidiary, has made serious strides in disrupting the communications and human health markets. It’s just as keen to disrupt the transportation market—starting with a market-ready, driverless car. Current models have driven over 100 million miles without a single car accident. Some market commentators say that Alphabet may sell or license its self-driving car technology, but the very recent hiring of John Krafcik to be the new Google Self-Driving CEO proves Alphabet is far more serious about dominating the market than anyone realizes.
Meanwhile, Apple is hard at work building an electric vehicle to release by 2019. It has a 600+ employee team working on the project. Apple has poached much of its top talent from Fiat, former battery maker A123 and Tesla, offering outrageous incentives to make the switch. Some rumors have circulated that Apple might buy or partner with an existing car manufacturer to ease the significant hardware cost and regulatory burden of mass producing cars. However, I believe that Apple will most likely forge ahead solo to maintain the strength of their brand.
As Alphabet and Apple are charging into the market, many entrepreneurs are also working hard to solve missing pieces of the automotive puzzle. Startups like Nauto, Cruise Automation and more are bringing new technologies to market at a rapid pace—and their efforts are just the beginning. This emerging ecosystem has created even more opportunities to innovate and bring new technologies to the market, including:
- better and longer-lasting battery technology
- new software to control internal systems and to communicate with external networks
- artificial intelligence and robotics to control self-driving cars and improve performance and safety
- highly advanced sensor technology to control and create efficiencies inside the car, as well as connect with outside systems
- security systems to fight new threats as cars and cities become more connected through the Internet of Things (IoT)
- a range of new auto applications to deliver services to both the driver and the passengers
The need for innovation in the auto industry is massive and will heavily rely on software and sensors for connected cars and smart cities. As more of these technologies come to life, the already huge auto market will further grow and expand. If you’re an entrepreneur and you want to create startup in this space, don’t delay. Building an idea into a successful company isn’t easy. You need to execute on the right strategy. That includes protecting your IP, creating a solid fundraising strategy and developing strategic partnerships. All of this takes time, but if you get started now you have a chance to be a trailblazer in the new automotive ecosystem.
In the near future, historians will look back at this time as a turning point in the automotive industry. They will see a renaissance of exploration and innovation where auto outsiders took a leap of faith and created technologies that auto makers didn’t believe possible or desirable. Alphabet and Apple will both play major roles in this renaissance, but entrepreneurs have the opportunity to jump in and win big as well. The time is now to strategize, plan and execute. Get ready for the future of transportation, it’s on the way.
This article was written by Bijan Khosravi from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.