From CES: The Auto Lowdown


(By Buzz Knight) The Consumer Electronics Show has become a pivotal destination for the automotive industry to showcase their brands, and at CES 2020 many of the same themes continue to surface.

The automotive industry, just like the radio industry, is dealing with seismic shifts in consumer behavior, and its painfully obvious that no one entity has the “secret sauce” figured out.

The battleground is one of marketing attention rather than product differentiation.

This year, it is noteworthy that Ford is heavily focused around the safety issue. They are displaying a dashboard — that utilizes data flowing from the car and any given city — that analyzes “safety insights” to create a heat map of the market. Data includes: intersection crashes, crashes involving a pedestrian or cyclist, statistical crash hotspots, and number of hard-braking events.

Honda is also showcasing their “Safe Swarm” technology (see photo at right) that is designed to realize safe and smooth traffic flow using connected-car technology with vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-road infrastructure capabilities.

Then there is Nissan, which, in my opinion, takes the cake when it comes to automotive marketing mumbo jumbo with their “Intelligent Integration” and their platform that they call “Nissan Connect X.” By connecting every part of the ownership experience from a drivers car to mobile phone to smart home, Nissan claims they are creating an integrated experience that gets smarter everyday. Their brand promise is “Connect X helps drivers make better decisions and live better lives.”

I’ll let you decide whether that sounds like marketing mumbo jumbo or not.

The Car as a Marketplace
Amazon had a prominent place on the convention center floor as expected and they revealed some new integrations that relate to the in-car experience.

There are improvements in the voice navigation experience and they also revealed a new Alexa “pay for gas” skill in partnership with Exxon and Mobil.

As voice becomes more perfected in-car, we will continue to see this space grow and prosper for partners and brands.

Autonomous vehicles were once again on display at CES 2020 although my sense is this fast-moving train of a few years back seems to have slowed down just a bit. At his annual Innovation Summit, Shelly Palmer said, “All Ubers are already self-driving” and when you stop and think, the autonomous movement does have implications on the future of ride-sharing.

Fleets of autonomous vehicles will be the future for Uber and Lyft but the timeline won’t be short.

Mobileye — an intel company — was also prominently displayed at the show to illustrate their investment in “robotaxis,” which they predict will be a $160 billion business by 2030.
They plan on launching a pilot program with VW in the future, in Tel-aviv.

No matter what shape or direction the automotive business takes, I’m once again reminded that the changing face of this sector is our prime battleground to try and protect and maximize.

We must not forget that our content needs to be excellent and in the moment as a companion for commuters and consumers for the years ahead.

Buzz Knight is the CEO of Buzz Knight Media and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]


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