As busy as ever, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) brought together over 170,000 attendees. Smart cities, autonomous vehicle, new and multimodal mobility: the transportation industry took centre stage.
With fewer new technologies, the focal point was on the issues that slow down the innovation and implementation process, ranging from financing, establishing strategies and cooperation, whilst putting a real focus on the end-user experience. “It’s time to make the experience more human,” explains Chrissy Taylor (Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Holdings) and we couldn’t agree more.

We’ve put together some of the mobility highlights of this event. Enjoy!

#1 The renewal of the car experience requires the integration of new services, not just autonomy

Despite previsions, the race toward autonomous vehicle development is not taking place as fast as expected. Gary Shapiro recalls that a few years ago, fully autonomous fleets were to enter the market by 2021: “I remember the projections from CES four or five years ago: By 2021, we will have a fleet. Obviously, that’s not happening as quickly. There’s a lot of barriers.”
Engineering challenges and difficulties relating to the monetization of Level 5 autonomous cars mean that OEMs, as well as Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, are currently only focusing on Level 2 and 3 applications. If 2020 is not the year of complete autonomy, other new services have emerged as cars offer the opportunity to showcase technological expertise.

Electric and connected cars with new services

A large part of the CES event was dedicated to the automotive sector, where OEMs had the opportunity to show their progress. The show was so popular that it ended up taking precedence over the Automobile Fair in Paris or in Frankfurt. But what are carmakers’ priorities today?

Byton is designing a new M-Byte electric model this year, aiming to move beyond Tesla’s cutting-edge technology, as announced by its CEO Daniel Kirchert. The new features include a 48-inch voice-controlled screen and allow passengers to interact differently with the vehicle, consume different content relating to television or the travel world. The manufacturer has already received 60,000 orders. Delivery is scheduled for 2021.

The inside of the car is changing as Renault exploits the link between the car and the connected devices at home, thanks to a partnership with Otodo.

As for Sony, the focus was on infotainment. With Vision S, which showcases the entertainment experience and the user interface thanks to the numerous screens and content available to users, Sony positioned itself not only as a carmaker but as a new thinker in mobility.

Other actors focused on very specific developments:

  • Sound quality with Harman who worked on a new stereo dedicated to electric vehicles
  • A speaker-less 3D immersive audio system by Continental and Sennheiser achieves excellent acoustics by exciting surfaces inside the vehicle to produce sound

Equipment manufacturers took driver comfort and safety to heart, as did the CES which honoured Bosch with the Best of Innovation award for its Sunvisor, a virtual visor that addresses the issue of driving in the sun. The Virtual Visor is capable of detecting the face and darkening the eyes to avoid driver glare.

Also of note is the partnership between Harman and Samsung, presenting the AR Navigation feature which displays information relating to driving in AR (pedestrian, direction, alert, etc.)

The Ecosystem logic is central to the developments of these new technologies

Given the myriad of services offered, alliances are at the heart of the development of these new products. According to Deloitte, this dynamic can be explained by the rising of R&D costs. To counter it, automakers chose to actively look to acquire technical expertise rather than developing it in-house. Some OEMs recognise that developing advanced technologies themselves would take far too long and yield less than successful results. Another approach is to forge strategic partnerships to spread the cost and share the risk of developing advanced technologies. Some OEMs are trying to plug visible gaps in their R&D programs by leveraging expertise from rival companies.

Here are some examples of ecosystems or partnerships:

  • Sony. The corporation has teamed up with several partners, including the Canadian manufacturer Magma for the design of a platform which can be reused for SUV-type models. Other names associated with the project include Continental, GNX, Bosch, Qualcomm, Nvidia or Blackberry.
  • Byton. The manufacturer is working to create a “Vision for an immersive, multimedia future inside the car,” said Kiyo Oishi, President and CEO of ACCESS and for this purpose has signed partnerships with CBS (media), Access (cinema) and RoadTravel (travel reservations) for the occasion.
  • Ericson. The company is building its Connected Vehicle Cloud in addition to the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform that is running on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. The integrated solution allows automakers to deploy and scale global vehicle services such as fleet management, over-the-air software updates and Connected Safety services much easier and faster whilst reducing costs. It provides flexibility through modular design and multiple deployment options.
    Ericsson also partnered with Veoneer in developing ADAS and autonomous driving technologies. Targeting automotive OEMs, cities and end-users, Veoneer will set up a test track with a Verizon 5G network powered by Ericsson technology.

Who will pay?

OEMs continue to spend huge sums on R&D in order to develop new features that will appeal to users. However, the results of the 2020 Deloitte Global Automotive Survey highlight the gap between financial investment and consumers’ willingness to pay.
Certainly, consumer interest in AVs has stalled. The 2019 study highlighted concerns towards autonomous vehicles, especially in the safety aspect. This year’s figures corroborate this concern. In addition, consumers are unwilling to pay extra for connectivity. This figure is much lower in India and China than Germany or Korea. According to Deloitte “this may be because consumers in more mature automotive markets have been trained for many years to expect manufacturers to introduce advanced technologies at little or no additional cost as a way to differentiate themselves in the market.”
The situation is quite similar when it comes to alternative engine solutions. On this point, Chinese consumers’ interest in electric cars may be starting to wane as the government decided to pull back on incentives.

#2 The City Supports the Development of New Mobility

The smart city was in the limelight at CES. It is the hotbed for the development and application of tomorrow’s innovations in terms of mobility.

New actors are redesigning the city

Toyota is positioning itself this year in the design of a city of the future: Woven City. Located at the foot of Mount Fuji, on an old site belonging to Toyota, this city is a “living lab” according to the CEO Akio Toyoda and allows the testing of Toyota technologies (autonomous vehicles, street design, smart home and new mobilities). The city includes 71ha and wishes to reunite 2000hts (employees of Toyota and their families). Woven city aims to separate pedestrians from cars. Toyota thus offers three types of street: one dedicated to fast vehicles, the other to low-speed vehicles and finally a space for the pedestrian. Construction is planned for 2021.

A renewed need in terms of infrastructure

The new forms of mobility taking over the city require certain improvements in terms of infrastructure.

  • Urban air mobility cannot be deployed without substantial investments in terms of infrastructure, as Deloitte points out in its June 2019 study. However, while EVTOL was once again in the spotlight, little thought was given to their more general integration within the city. Chad Sparks, Director, Business Innovation, Bell, Textron Inc points out at a conference: “It is not just about the vehicle. We need a new generation of infrastructures”. Bell thus presented its booth with a city model featuring hovering Nexus’s. On the side, terminals made it possible to book a ride virtually as well as manage the fleet. Another partnership to highlight is that of Hyundai and Uber, which presented an EVTOL with a range of 100 km capable of flying at 190 km/h. Uber Elevate plans to develop the service in Melbourne, Australia, as well as in Dallas and Los Angeles.
  • The deployment of electric. Range anxiety is still one of the obstacles in the acquisition of new electric vehicles. However, the electric is no longer just a matter for automakers since micromobility actors have taken it over. Startups such as Green Riders and Swiftmile are offering terminals in the urban space in order to optimise the performance of “chargers” or facilitate the user experience. Spin partner Swiftmile has already deployed multiple terminals in Israel and the US.

A fluid city thanks to optimised delivery

  • Adapt to user expectations. Last-mile delivery has become a key consumer expectation. Most of the time, users want more frequent and faster deliveries. In 2018, 55% of consumers will switch to a competing retailer/brand if it offers a faster delivery service as explained by Capgemini. However, keep in mind that expectations are not homogeneous, and that different types of delivery may be considered. This is what Vineet Mehra, Global Chief Marketing Officer of Wallgreens Boots Alliance explained to us: “We want to offer a portfolio of last-mile solutions as diverse as our customer needs”. They have developed a complete system comprising three types of solutions: Fast Delivery, In-Store Convenience and Last mile partnerships with Fedex.
  • Propose new delivery solutions. Different actors have positioned themselves on autonomous robots. Valeo has developed an autonomous robot in partnership with Meituan Dianping. The eDeliver 4U delivers 17 meals per trip with a range of 100 km and a travel speed of 12 km/h. The secure delivery box can be opened by the user via an application. An android developed by Fedex was also announced to be one of the speakers at the last mile conference!

#3 Towards the Development of Multimodal Mobility?

Whilst automakers are increasingly positioning themselves as mobility providers, CES globally failed to reflect on multimodality. If some automakers such as Toyota and Fiat showcased scooter models, the overall approach was mostly car-centric. Here are the few moments where multimodality and its challenges were mentioned.

MaaS, a subject highlighted by a few actors

  • New mobility players
    Firstly, in its vision of the city, Bell presented an integration of UAM developments within MaaS, without giving further details. Elsewhere, Sharing OS presented a MaaS pilot in Augsburg.
  • Carmakers
    Mitsubishi brought up multimodality to a greater degree. In September 2019, Mitsubishi announced its investment in global MaaS which offers a subscription solution to users including Bus, tram, taxi, car, bicycles… During CES 2020, Mitsubishi Electric has even put MaaS in the name of their mission, from personally owned transportation to Mobility as a Service (MaaS). At a keynote, Daimler spoke about “Integrated Mobility System” (Klaus Entenmann, President and CEO at Daimler Financial Services). They touched on integrating tax, Public transport, shared mobility, Last Mile, and ride-hailing.
  • Meanwhile, in the world of tech companies, Siemens shared their HaCon platform. The platform includes multimodal trip planning and ticketing. It integrates Demand Responsive Transport, Park & Ride options, e-vehicle charging stations or other third party services into trip planners. Samsung brought up some interesting insights. During its keynote, Samsung defined MaaS as an offer bringing together various modes of transportation, dynamically priced, and one single transaction. Young Sohn, Corporate President and Chief Strategy Officer for Samsung Electronics explained: “we see great opportunities to experience many smartphone features that enable this new era of mobility as a service”. He notably sees 5G as one of the core enabling technologies. 

Micromobility, a field of innovation

Alongside traditional actors, new players are coming to the bicycle and micromobility market. Accessories, fleet management or vehicle innovations: new mobility is the opportunity to design new exciting products. The majority of these developments promote sharing and safety.

In terms of new vehicles, Bird has made a name for itself this year with its new Cruiser model and ‘Bird One’ scooter. New entrants to the sector have also presented differentiated VAE models such as Ridel Bikes, Coleen or Calamus. More traditional actors also introduced great innovations such as Bridgestone’s Airless Tires. Their design eliminates the need for tires to be filled and maintained with air, and essentially erases the dangers and downtime associated with a flat tire.

We also noted a connectivity and entertainment focus: Gemalto and Bosh highlighted bike connectivity for entertainment uses with advanced tracking features that enrich the outdoor cycling experience.

Other players such as SEGWAY stood out by presenting new hybrid models. Here are the models presented: Electric scooter, Kickscooter (recharging while braking), S-pod. It reaches 38 km/h and will be available for sale in 2021. Finally, Retrofit (transition from a manual bike to an electric model) was presented on by CYC Motor and Hycore.

On the topic of Shared Mobility, we had the chance to discover Sharing Os, a turnkey solution for mobility sharing. It includes:

  • A mobility sharing ecosystem includes a range of patented hardware solutions, ranging from smart locks to e-bikes, to mini-scooter and cars.
  • Front end and back-end software solutions to help you run and manage your mobility sharing scheme effectively.
  • An Insights & Analytics platform to provide its partners with ongoing insights and predictive analytics to help them optimise their mobility sharing operations.

Niu, on the other hand, presented new models (the RQi-GT and TQi-GT), and highlighted its “Niu SaaS” offer: a white label fleet management solution for mopeds. This is used in particular by Revel in the United States.

Navmatic offered a positioning product with better location identification than traditional GPS for shared micro-mobility. The challenges they aim to tackle include regulation, operation and the inability to monitor rider behaviour.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, it is easy to say that the mobility playground has become a field to be exploited for new entrants or traditional actors who position themselves on transport issues. This is clear in the case of Sony, for whom the car is a way of showcasing its technologies.

We did, however, note an absence of environmental issues. Though numerous innovations relied on electricity, uses will have to change tomorrow and not just vehicles. Brie Carere, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Fedex demonstrated this point well when she explained, “We are not talking about technology but about consumers”. Nevertheless, it is fortunate that CES 2020 recognised the need for putting the consumer back at the centre.