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Hot Auto Topics From C.A.R.


The news this week allowed for much reflection and important discussions, given the recent traumatic events affecting the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and the concerning Tesla crashes in Michigan. There was also buzz surrounding both automotive cybersecurity and vehicle emissions regulations, both hot topics that will only continue to grow in importance for the industry.

If you missed my previous Hot Topics email, you can read it here.

We would love to hear from you and welcome your questions at any time. If you're interested in sharing your thoughts with us on hot topics, or if you would like to ask us a research question, please reach out to Katie Ramsburgh.

Hot Topics of 3/22/2021 - 3/26/2021

Automotive Cybersecurity

My thoughts:

As we've gone through this pandemic, the number of phishing, cyberattacks, and reports of other hacking activities continue to clog my inbox, and there is no end in sight for this. As leaders within our companies, we need to be very observant and always talking about this subject in our workplaces. It has also become a part of the G in ESG that all company boards need to review and analyze the risk. 

Automotive customers have a heightened awareness of cybersecurity in their personal activities, so this heightened awareness will add to their suspicions in their vehicles and through every element of their life that is connected to the cloud in any way. There will be increasing reticence to click "accept" when asked. We need to be clear and concise with our customers about what data is being taken and how it is being used. At the same time, we need to be ready to explain "why this will benefit them" both in terms of safety and economics.

Consumer education and awareness of in-vehicle cybersecurity issues are made more complicated by the lack of global harmonization in personal data protection.  Europe is leading the way in securing personal data, and we have recently seen China begin to block certain companies from customer data.
The cybersecurity discussion continues, and what we know is that hacks will happen. We need to be prepared to identify hacks and stop them FAST!  Always review your company policies and data and make sure all holes are plugged.

Michigan Tesla Crashes My thoughts:

The NHTSA reviews so far on these crashes have identified that the vehicle is working properly, BUT the customer had overconfidence in what the system could do. Plus, each automaker has its protocols regarding the judgment of "customer attentiveness," which is required to utilize Tesla Autopilot, Cadillac Cruise, Nissan Pro-pilot, and others. Customers must understand that these systems are NOT SELF DRIVING, and this needs to be repeated always and often. We see systems that appear to be working well, and all automakers need to learn from them. We need to be ready to adapt based on what we are observing in the marketplace. These technologies create a new arena, and overtraining is better – tell the customer much more than they need.  AND, most importantly, let's be very clear that these products and technologies require vigilant attention. We cannot allow more misinformation and mistrust – this is crucial as the automotive industry seeks to move forward with technologies meant to keep us safer!!

Workforce and Mobility Equity My thoughts:

We keep talking about equity, social injustice, and diversity, but we continue to see incidents that add doubt to our progress as a nation. We need to keep talking about these issues and not hide them away.  We need to keep our history as we learn from this. We need to realize our biases (some we don't even notice) and work to remove them – there needs to be a little voice in each person that catches you when begin to judge prematurely, the voice says, "stop – listen – talk to this person – judge much later." It's against our nature, but every person needs to work to change their behavior.

Regarding mobility, I am very concerned with the data about car buyers (age and household income) and see that as auto prices rise, many people simply can't afford a vehicle – new or used. As an industry, it is up to us to create new and different kinds of products to allow the mobility ecosystem to exist.  Further, our business models need to be disrupted to allow more sharing, usership vs. ownership, and allow equal access to mobility. Mobility is the key to health care, jobs, and education, and it's up to us to solve this divide.

Emissions Regulations My thoughts:

We have now heard President Biden's first press conference, and his views on environmental issues are very clear. He is receiving significant pressure to move fast on climate initiatives, and many proposals are being tossed around.  40% BEVs by 2030, 60% BEVs by 2030 all sound great, but we must study every aspect of these kinds of statements. Jobs in auto and corollary industries will be impacted.  Investment in local manufacturing and retrofitting plants takes time. Other items impacted are raw material availability, clean energy, and the oil and gas sector. This all affects jobs, workforce training and retraining, and education.  If we move too fast, there will be dire unintended consequences. Let's take the time to study and create a  path that allows for success throughout without severe economic hits. We are reeling from the pandemic. We are fragile, but optimism is rising in many aspects… let's take time and study all angles to make this transition one we can proudly support.
Best Regards,

Carla Bailo
President and CEO
Center for Automotive Research

Upcoming webinar:

Altair Enlighten Award Webinar Series – Full Vehicle, and Module Lightweighting

Wednesday, April 14, 2021  |  10:30 AM EST

The journey of innovation – what are the key factors that enable companies to innovate successfully?
What are some of the emerging exciting lightweighting technologies with positive environmental impacts that could become popular across multiple industries?
How are companies re-devising supply-chain strategies in the wake of the pandemic or post-pandemic?

Meet a few of the Altair Enlighten Award winners for answers to these questions and more!

Hosted by Altair in conjunction with the Center of Automotive Research (CAR), the webinar will highlight the success of the Altair Enlighten Award in elevating initiatives to advance vehicle lightweighting.  A panel discussion with leading industry pioneers will review how technology advancements at both the component or assembly level, as well as for full vehicles have advanced the impetus for vehicle lightweighting. The panel will explore the business and environmental impacts of novel, emerging technology solutions, and how they can apply to other programs and applications.

Panel Host: Richard Yen, Senior VP, Global Industry Verticals and Sales Enablement Team, Altair

Speakers: TBA

Space is limited – Register now!


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