DuckerFrontier’s Director, Global Automotive Strategy & Advisory, Chris Brower, recently moderated a panel at the WCX™ World Congress Experience — in the beating heart of The Motor City — following a keynote address from Ken Washington, Ford Motor Company CTO and SAE International VP Automotive Sector.

Event Overview

The SAE International WCX is the “mobility industry’s most-anticipated annual event for forward-thinking engineers, executives, OEMs, suppliers, decision-makers, disruptors and the entire spectrum of the mobility-engineering field. The event spans three days of expert-led technical education, peer-to-peer networking, a technology-driven exhibit floor and global mobility solutions that are shifting the marketplace.”

The event was part of the 11th Annual Global Automotive & Mobility Innovation Challenge, now STEM.org Educational Research Accredited™ (SER). The theme of this year’s event and the panel addressed how mobility is progressing at a rapid-fire pace. Staying ahead of the curve means standing shoulder-to-shoulder with industry leaders who are transforming inspiration into action.

“While there is often a focus on detailed engineering, GAMIC finalists provide a broad set of applications and innovations from universities, national labs, incubators and other sources.  This panel took it a step further to provide a framework for the future,” said GAMIC co-founder, David Stout.

Presentation Takeaways

Brower moderated a panel of mobility innovators across the mobility ecosystem. He covered topics such as new capital investments, business model enablers, technology advancements and consumer trends influencing connected services. Participants included the following:

  • Steve Surhigh, Vice President of Automotive Cloud Solutions for Harman International
  • Ryan Kiley, Executive Director of Consumers Energy
  • David Welch, Bloomberg’s auto sector bureau chief – who is frequently published on topics involving technology and mergers & acquisitions.

The panel covered new business models and approaches to the EV outlook, such as distributed renewables, distributed battery storage, microgrids, smart cities, electric vehicle smart charging infrastructure, advanced energy management services and different monetization model consideration alternatives, including subscription vs. direct.

The discussion also touched on advancements in consumer electronics and telematics, operational challenges and governance, and automotive M&A activity. Panelists considered details ranging from early stage valuations to emerging and unseen B2B and B2C partnerships, as ‘mobility as a service’ models emerge across different global markets.

“Cars are no longer just transport vehicles, but integrators of technology, data centers, and parts of an intricate mobility network—which will only continue to advance over the next five years,” says Harman’s Surhigh. “The more partnership and collaboration amongst companies, the more seamless integration automakers can offer consumers, providing an opportunity for OEMs and Tier Ones to differentiate themselves from the pack.”

How are improvements in infrastructure, electrical grids and connected services enabling vehicle connectivity, safety and performance? What is the EV adoption outlook, and what are industry drivers and barriers? Are the emerging models generating more attractive returns to shareholders?

“Right now, carmakers, software giants and Silicon Valley startups are plowing billions into electric drive and autonomous software. There will be a few winners and possibly many losers, so the risk is big,” asserts Welch.

DuckerFrontier’s Automotive team is at the forefront of key trends impacting the industry. Our goal is to help clients deliver growth solutions to support critical business decisions and growth strategies. How can we help you deliver better outcomes for your business? Contact us here to connect with a team member.

About GAMIC:

The Global Automotive & Mobility Challenge (GAMIC) is an annual competition for early-stage automotive and mobility companies with emerging technologies. It was created to: identify innovative companies from around the world; cultivate new technologies and solutions; and accelerate their adoption into the automotive and mobility industries. Winners share more than $300K in commercialization acceleration services and cash, along with facilitated introductions to top influencers and decision-makers. At the GAMIC Finals during SAE WCX World Congress held at Detroit in April, attended by over 10,000 people including forward-thinking engineers, executives, OEMs, suppliers, decision-makers, disruptors and mobility professionals, participants get exposure to vast networking and connections opportunities.

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