Attendees at the Connected Car Expo around the Ford Focus Electric at the JW Marriott on Nov. 17, 2015 in Los Angeles. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The Future Of Cars — Connected, Electric And Shared

By Louis Hansen
Mercury News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Silicon Valley and its software engineers are well-positioned to disrupt the $1 trillion automobile market. The region is home to electric vehicle maker Tesla, the state’s only major auto manufacturing plant, and a growing collection of startups working on autonomous vehicle technology.

SAN JOSE

It doesn’t take a 90-minute commute to figure out that Bay Area transportation needs to change — and fast.

A handful of experts at the annual State of the Valley conference suggested Friday the future of transportation is highly connected, probably electric and maybe shared.

“This is not a small problem to solve,” Michael Uhl, partner at McKinsey & Company, told an audience of business leaders at the event, sponsored by Joint Venture Silicon Valley. Uhl said the auto industry is on the cusp of major changes, similar to the computer market in the 1980s and ’90s.

Transportation investors and entrepreneurs participating in a panel discussion focused on four main areas of rapid change: growing acceptance of electric vehicles, greater connectivity between cars, improvements in autonomous driving, and new ride and vehicle sharing platforms.

“These are game-changers,” Uhl said.

Silicon Valley and its software engineers are well-positioned to disrupt the $1 trillion automobile market. The region is home to electric vehicle maker Tesla, the state’s only major auto manufacturing plant, and a growing collection of startups working on autonomous vehicle technology.

Hookups between manufacturers and tech companies have accelerated. Ford announced last week a $1 billion investment in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company with Bay Area ties. Last year, GM spent $1 billion on San Francisco-based Cruise.

Patrick Brady, director of Android engineering at Google, said the two cultures can complement each other despite their differences. Silicon Valley pushes for constant innovation, he said, while the auto industry knows supply chains and manufacturing durable parts and complicated vehicles.

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