Home » The Auto Industry Thinks The Future Of Cars Is Everything But Driving

The Auto Industry Thinks The Future Of Cars Is Everything But Driving

Harminy Dump

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas kicked off yesterday and, what once was a show about consumer electronics, is now the most important auto show in the world. Here’s what the future of cars looks like according to the auto industry itself.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

The Future Of Cars Is Car Karaoke

Chrysler Syntthesis

Chrysler will debut a two-seat car today with no steering wheel, no doors, no roof, no motor and no wheels. Technically, this is because the Chrysler Synthesis (great name!) is just a technology demonstrator meant to show off the brand’s cabin of the future, but it gives you a good idea of where the industry is heading and where its focus is at the moment.

As far as infotainment systems go, the “smart cockpit” looks much like other modern designs with a massive 37.2-inch screen that serves both the driver and passenger. It’s not going into a production car so it’s a little sleeker than what you’d find in a Mercedes EQS and more dynamic than what’s in a Tesla Model X.

The setup is created to operate with “Level 3 autonomous driving,” better known as nonsense garbage. The promise of Level 3 does allow Chrysler’s new system to use AI to plan your day. They call this MyDay. Here’s how they describe it being used in their press release:

MyDay – Synthesizes and syncs multiple aspects of the customer experience, including calendars and schedules, vehicle status info such as charge status, home smart tech features, weather updates and more, helping to organize and map out an intelligent trip plan for the day

Vehicle Welcome – Delivers a “welcome” via virtual personal assistant based on biometric recognition

Driving – Vehicle operates with Level 3 autonomous driving, allowing the driver to multitask and access a suite of productivity-based activities, such as video conferencing; recommends lunch locations with convenient parking and charging options; returns home at end of day and performs a smart home “wake up” upon arrival

Chill/Zen/Fun Modes – Creates a sensory experience, including in-vehicle fun and wellness experiences (meditation, karaoke, DJ game), while the vehicle is stationary or driving autonomously. The demonstrator will feature the Synthesis Music Experience, which allows customers to create and synthesize their own music

It is quite possible this is the future. It’s also quite possible that most of what people do will continue to be through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Of course, saying something is “the future” and basing it on CES is a little self-selecting. Obviously, no one is going to bring a bunch of muscle cars to Las Vegas.

::Touches earpiece::

Oops. I was wrong. I’m just hearing that Dodge is going to have a “Last Call” performance festival in Las Vegas to celebrate the Last Call models and introduce a “final 2023 Dodge ‘Last Call’ special-edition model and also highlight Dodge brand’s drive toward an electrified future.” From what I can see in the press release it’s not clear what that Last Call model is. I assume it’s Challenger-based, but perhaps we’ll get the Dodge Dart SRT4 the company teased and never built.

They should have done it during CES! Still sounds like a cool party.

The Future Of Cars Is Fewer Chips

Snaprdagon Ride Flex

The average new car has more than 1,000 semiconductors (or chips), with some featuring as many as 3,000 of them. This adds power requirements, cost, and complexity to the creation of a modern automobile. This complexity has resulted in a massive decline in car production and feature offerings due to the global chip shortage.

Chipmaker Qualcomm’s solution? The Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC (System-on-Chip) product family. Basically, Ride Flex SoC aims to combine a bunch of major features into one chip. You can read their press release to see how excited they are about this.

The Flex SoC is engineered to support mixed-criticality workloads across heterogenous compute resources, allowing for the digital cockpit, ADAS and AD functions to co-exist on a single SoC. Designed to meet the highest level of automotive safety, the Flex SoC enables a hardware architecture to support isolation, freedom from interference, and quality-of-service (QoS) for specific ADAS functions and comes equipped with a dedicated Automotive Safety Integrity Level D (ASIL-D) safety island. Furthermore, the Flex SoC pre-integrates a software platform that supports multi-operating system operating concurrently, hypervisor enablement with isolated virtual machines, and real-time operating system (OS) with an Automotive Open System Architecture (AUTOSAR) to meet the mixed criticality workload requirements for driver assistance safety systems, digital reconfigurable clusters, infotainment systems, driver monitoring systems (DMS), and park-assist systems.

That is a lot of acronyms and terms thrown together to basically say (I think) that a bunch of systems that once worked semi-independently of one another can be combined into one environment. Their graphic is actually quite helpful to see how all the disparate systems that fit together.

The Future Of Cars Is More Cars

Kia Ev6

The auto industry had another bad year. Even as things began to improve in the second half of 2022 it wasn’t enough. Here’s the first look at the scorecard from Reuters:

Full-year U.S. auto sales are forecast to be about 13.9 million units, down 8% from 2021 and 20% from the peak in 2016, according to industry consultant Cox Automotive.

Inventory shortages, caused by surging material costs and persistent chip shortage, spilled into 2022, hobbling production at many automakers. Tight supplies kept car and truck prices elevated, even as auto inventory improved in the second half of the year.

Hyundai-Kia were the biggest winner as the company was able to get cars delivered faster than pretty much everyone else at a time when its product portfolio is as good, or better, than most of the competition. The biggest hit by global shortages were the Japanese automakers, with Toyota likely losing its sales crown to GM this year.

Car companies will keep reporting sales throughout the week and we’ll keep updating as we have the info.

The Future Of Cars Is Autonomous Trucking

Gatik Microsoft

This isn’t explicitly a CES story, but it fits in nicely with the theme. According to Reuters sources, Microsoft is going to invest in autonomous trucking startup Gatik.

Microsoft plans to invest over $10 million in a financing round that values Gatik at more than $700 million, the sources added. As part of the deal, Gatik will use Microsoft’s cloud and edge computing platform Azure in developing autonomous delivery technology for trucks.

Ford and VW bailing on Argo AI hasn’t slowed down Microsoft, which also invested in GM’s Cruise. Something autonomous is coming and Microsoft wants a piece of it. Trucking is also the environment where this makes the most sense and Gatik is focused on the “middle mile” of B2B.

The Flush

How long do you think it’ll be before you can buy a car without a steering wheel? Will you ever buy a car without a steering wheel?

Relatedbar

Got a hot tip? Send it to us here. Or check out the stories on our homepage.

Photos: Qualcomm, Stellantis, Gatik

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit

53 Responses

  1. I don’t think a car without a steering wheel is too close…..
    How would it handle say parking in a field at a concert or sporting event?
    Snow/Ice that reduces lane markings and makes 4 lane roads a barely passable 2 lane?
    Having a couch in the bed of a truck and you drive to a door of a house to unload that requires driving through a yard.
    Is this really a problem we need to solve?

  2. I can render a car with no steering wheel.

    Given enough time, I can even build you, on my own and from scratch, a car with no steering wheel that could be successfully demonstrated by transporting you between some places.

    But making that a general use product that will work as reliably and safely as the human-operated vehicles that we currently have is not going to happen in our lifetimes. The only reason that people think it’s plausible is that we’re EXTREMELY bad at understanding exponential changes. We have made immense progress towards autonomy relative to where we were a decade ago. And we’ve barely scratched the surface of the problem.

    Anything any of us ever use that resembles a car but doesn’t have a steering wheel is going to be a glorified Disney World monorail that happens to no longer need a physical rail.

  3. So the chip thing had me excited for a second because I hoped against hope that the auto industry would simplify cars and go back to making things more analog, but nope, all it means is that instead of a bunch of little chips we get one big chip.

    I have mixed feelings about this… I guess it’s technically simpler? Simpler is usually a good thing, except this is the form of simpler that means if one part breaks, the whole thing breaks, and that’s a big problem in the auto industry these days. On the other hand, at least that makes the technician’s life easier because, “Oh, there’s an electrical problem? I guess it’s a problem with THE SINGULAR CHIP! Ah yes, the chip is fried! That’ll be $2,000 to replace THE CHIP.”

    1. One chip is not necessarily a bad thing.

      One chip where the vendor is Qualcomm is definitely a bad thing.

      The big problem with chips right now is mostly that the chips have a single supplier. Fewer single points of failure is an improvement. But it’s still bad.

  4. At this point, I’m probably going to only buy 20th century cars with some rare exceptions possible(Ariel Atom, Alfa Romeo 4C, and a few other niche vehicles from the 21st century would be considered), so the only cars I will buy that come with no steering wheel will have one added because it will be required to function as a car. None of today’s new cars appeal to me, and I’d never buy a fully autonomous car of any kind.

Leave a Reply