4
Apr

Why the EV Work Truck is Here to Stay

By: Michael Schmall, Vice President, Automotive

For more than two decades, the National Work Truck Show has been where commercial trucking business gets done. Invariably, deals made on the floor of this expo result in the placement of thousands of new big rigs on America’s roadways.

Tough. Dependable. Job done.

At this year’s show, however, I noticed a perceptible shift in the winds, heralding a greener future. Discussed for years, but considered the costly stuff of fancy imagination and drawing boards, EV trucking has made its grand entry into the trucking consciousness, and a new trio of current-time buzzwords were being uttered by attendees of this year’s show:

Autonomy. Connectivity. Electrification.

Indeed, the biggest headlines at the NTEA’s annual showcase weren’t about torque, hauling capacity, and power. In fact, the news that had everyone buzzing was the opinions of some experts that, by 2022, the cost of owning an EV truck, over its lifetime, will equal that of its gas or diesel-sipping counterparts.

Let that sink in for a moment. It cannot be understated that, in a room full of people who depend upon box trucks to tractor-trailers for their livelihoods, no less than some of the industry’s biggest advocates pronounced that their entire business model is about to be forever transformed.

“Electrification can be really beneficial for the work truck environment,” said Michael Berube, a U.S. Department of Energy executive and presenter at the show. “I know we’re in the early days, but the time is now for people to get in and start experimenting, because it’s going to be the wave of the future.”

Presenters like Berube aren’t just thinking about catching the latest wave in technology – they are also considering the positive environmental impact of the work truck industry shifting to EV powertrains as millions of hybrid and EV passenger cars emit infinitesimal amounts of carbons into our atmosphere. In fact, the National Energy Agency found that emissions for heavy-duty vehicles (HDV) have grown faster than any other transit mode – by a national average of 2.4 percent – since 2000.

 

What will it take for work trucks to dive into the EV pool?

Clearly, despite the headline-making benefits of EV, the market reality is thus: Few manufacturers are poised to deliver fleets of electrified rigs. It will take more than the Tesla Semi – a fully electrified tractor-trailer scheduled to hit highways in 2020 – to turn a whimper into a bang.

Fortunately, more traditional rivals have taken notice. Daimler, the world’s largest truck manufacturer, is already producing electric rigs under its various brands. Last June, they unveiled two electric Freightliner trucks – the eCascadia and medium-duty eM2 106 – which they confirm are poised for production in 2021. More recently, in late March of 2019, Tesla rival Nikola Motors announced it was building a manufacturing facility for its hydrogen-electric rig on 400 acres of land it purchased in Arizona. Finally, Ford signaled their EV intentions, announcing the evolution of their eTrucking plans at the Work Truck Show.

However, with these few exceptions, the work truck industry remains woefully unprepared for this phase shift. Most companies simply aren’t ready to take advantage of this change, or haven’t felt the pressure of increased demand from purchasers, to double-down on EV technology.

 

Why should the work truck industry embrace EV?

Clearly, if we analyze the cost-to-operate statements made at the Work Truck Show, we can extrapolate that in about a half-decade, EV trucks will be cheaper to operate over their lifetime than fueled rigs. Understanding and marketing these benefits will likely help to move the needle.

Government entities, eager to reduce emissions, will likely insist that fleets start to make the transformation over time – so the burden may shift to fleet managers, who will look to embrace EV additions to their fleets sooner, rather than later.

The European Union and Chinese truck makers are forging ahead into electrification, understanding its environmental and economic importance. So it will be imperative for American manufacturers to keep pace and push the EV needle to remain competitive.

The time is now to gain a greater understanding of the EV trucking business – definitely, clearly the risk for those who delay entry is great.

Want to gain a greater understanding of how electrification trends will impact your manufacturing operations? We at Morpace are happy to help you gather insights to help you better embrace an EV trucking future. Contact me – Michael Schmall – to start the conversation now.

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7
Feb

Rise of the Smart Car: The Shape-Shifting Motoring Future is Already Here

By: Duncan Lawrence and Stephan Schroeder, Automotive Research Professionals

 

For fans of the Terminator series of movies, it was compelling to think about a world that would foster “The Rise of the Machines.”

For consumers today – living in a switched-on world where the once-impossible is now a foregone conclusion – a profound, shape-shifting change is underway – one that we will call, “The Rise of the Smart Car.”

For those who have experienced the “tip of the iceberg” innovations in today’s currently-available models, it’s easy to see how the continued evolution of automated features, connectedness and yet-to-be-scoped technology will portend a future that is not that far off.

As we walked the floor of the recent Consumer Electronics Show, we gasped at the surreal experience before us. No longer did we see cars, as we, for generations, have come to experience them. Replacing the four wheels and a box were a dizzying array of form factors – designed more to contain, and define, a future driving experience where the exterior is not nearly as relevant as what lives inside. Changeable seats, in-car virtual reality, and holographic systems are among the newest innovations, jockeying to advance the traveling transformation underway.

Another reality that quickly unfolded as we walked the CES: There’s not one universal standard for the smart cars of the future. And, likewise, there’s no universal agreement on what the future “device” should look like. Beyond agreeing that electrification, connectivity, shared mobility and autonomy are the foundation, there’s no unifying approach that would dictate things like how many screens are enough (or too much), what the interior should look like, or how pervasive these connected car systems should be during the driving experience.

This makes it even more imperative that manufacturers, designers and others who earn their salt from the automotive industry, gain a keen understanding of where the motoring future is headed – and to embrace an ideal in which the car will be at the center of how we travel or experience seamless mobility.

 

“The Car, As We Know It, Is Dead.”

This change from what we have accepted as a “car,” is a movie that we’ve seen before (and, by this, we do not mean a Hollywood production). For the longest time, the phone was a clearly defined object – a box with 12 buttons, a handset and a cord. For generations, there was little debate as to what the phone should look like. Then, at some point, the cord was cut – and the world went crazy. No longer could we envision what the future of the phone would look like. Experimenters tried approaches that eliminated some – or all – of the telephone’s sacred cows – buttons, dials, handsets and cords.

Today, the device we hold – the smartphone – is the result of a tumultuous sea of change in the phone segment. And the “phone” itself – the enablement of point-to-point voice communication – is relegated to a single button on a screen with endless communication choices.

So can we expect that, in similar fashion, the core function of the car – to deliver people and parcels from Point A to Point B – will simply be an item on a long list of what the “smartcar” of the future can do?

Let’s explore in more detail by looking at some themes that were emerging as we absorbed the CES.

 

Mega Trends Are Alive and Well

  • Personalization – Though we can program our favorite waypoints and radio stations in today’s vehicles, consumers – accustomed to downloading whatever apps they desire to their smartphones – will be demanding much greater personalization in the vehicle of the future. Customization of physical and sensory aspects (such as interior lighting and sound), connected services (both remote and in-vehicle), and virtual personal assistants that connect us to the car and to other devices, lead the list.
  • Experience – Acquiring possessions is losing ground to the appreciation of an experience. In vehicles, this is manifesting itself by making driving less of the focus, while offering new functions with benefits, such as enhanced comfort, entertainment and productivity – many of which will be available “on demand” to the consumer, through subscription services.
  • Sharing – Consumers share more than ever before, both actively (e.g., Facebook) and passively (e.g., location-based apps). Vehicles are joining the fray as sharing becomes not only a common trend, but also a way of accelerating future product developments (i.e. open platforms).

 

The Automobile Reinvention is Under Way

In order to lead this reinvention, manufacturers, suppliers and technology companies are focusing on four specific areas:

  • Electrification – Fossil fuels are giving way to cleaner, more sustainable electricity in vehicles at an accelerating pace. In the bold future, fuel economy and range become secondary considerations outweighed by the benefits of electrification (remember, we didn’t stop using carriages because we ran out of horses). Vehicles will become electrified vessels, which are propelled, connected and personalized with circuitry and current rather than gasoline. It’s not just vehicles that are becoming electrified – from scooters and bikes to buses and semi-trucks, all are offering increasing flexibility, with limited compromise. Moreover, infrastructure improvements – not just added charging points, but apps helping consumers leverage the cheapest and fastest sources of charging – will smooth the wrinkles of some of the current barriers. New charging solutions may emerge, and battery capacity will undoubtedly continue to expand.
  • Connectedness – Today, we pair our phone with the car and we consider ourselves “connected.” But the future of connected services includes a variety of variables – human to vehicle, vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to infrastructure, and beyond – that represent a key stepping stone to full autonomy. To that end, the coming of 5G is a game-changer that will bring with it new levels of cellular reliability and speed which can rival our current home/office experience. One of the interesting questions is how we will communicate this new mobility experience. How do we help consumers make the transition from experiencing the physical features of car (“butts in seats”) to the digital experience (“thumbs on buttons”)?
  • Shared Mobility – As the relationship with our car transforms into this symbiotic and connected experience, the ideal of vehicle “ownership” or household fleet will change as well. Technologies which will increase utilization efficiency exponentially will also foster greater interest in shared mobility as consumers may find saving money or reducing carbon footprint more important than individual autonomy. One can envision that more of our transportation needs will no longer be tied to a particular vehicle, but will be portable to the most convenient form of transit on a given day. Integration with other forms of shared mobility – including aviation and rail, or individual mobility, such as scooters – will provide access to everyone, regardless of age, health, income or legal constraints. This likely represents the final step that will facilitate full autonomy.
  • Autonomous Driving One could expect that, at first, we will see the rise of “dedicated” autonomous lanes or zones to provide the clearest path for driverless vehicles. But, along with the physical advances of features and infrastructure must come a way to reassure consumers of their ability to trust the features and functions of an autonomous vehicle. Safety, security and privacy considerations – hallmarks of today’s insecure computing infrastructure – become even more integral when lives are at stake.

So with all that said, it was exciting to witness the beginning of a new era. The opportunities at the intersection of the trends and areas of reinvention are plentiful. Technology will help us to overcome some of the limitations of the manufacturing-based business model, and solutions will come through competition between both established and new players, as the race for the future of mobility has begun.

Are you ready for the rise of the “smartcar?”

Contact Duncan Lawrence and Stephan Schroeder to learn more.

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7
Nov

An Autonomous Future – Electric Vehicle Driver Opinion on Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous connected electric vehicles


For automobile manufacturers, a bold new future has arrived. Technology that adds autonomous features to the driving experience are now available on vehicles by all major manufacturers – inching us ever closer to the day where the driver is a passive, rather than active, participant in the driving experience. To take a closer look at what’s to come, automotive research experts from Market Strategies-Morpace will share their insights in an occasional blog series titled “An Autonomous Future.” In this blog, Stephan Schroeder, Vice President of Automotive Business Development at Market Strategies-Morpace, shares insights about how electric and hybrid vehicle drivers view the advantages and disadvantages of autonomous vehicles.

By: Stephan Schroeder, Vice President of Business Development, Automotive

The prospect of autonomous driving and connected mobility has energized the automotive industry and spurred billions of dollars of investments in autonomy, connectivity, and electrification. While startups and blue-chip corporations alike are convinced about the potential of autonomous vehicles (AV), consumers are more incredulous.

As previously reported in our An Autonomous Future series (Consumer Awareness & Opinion and The Role of the Consumer), media coverage has and will play a critical role in creating driver and rider awareness for AVs, but it is also becoming clear that the transition to this new form of mobility will require a multifaceted approach and unprecedented levels of investment in order to earn their trust.

One group that appears to be further along in their favorable opinion towards autonomous driving are drivers of electric vehicles. In a recent Morpace MyDrivingPower* online survey conducted among over 100 electric vehicle drivers, 3 out of 4 respondents expressed a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” opinion about AVs, more than twice the rate reported by drivers of vehicles with traditional powertrains. Given that difference in favorable opinions and their unique vantage point as early adopters, we took a closer look at the pros and cons of autonomous driving from their perspective.

 

Electric Vehicle Drivers’ Worry Revolves Around AV Tech-Related Challenges

Maybe not surprisingly, the biggest concern has to do with the technology itself. Concerns range from the quality of programming and the risk of being hacked to the inability of drivers to “program” the cars correctly.

And herein lies maybe the biggest challenge for AVs. We all have, over decades, become used to the limits of technology and the fact that it is not fail safe. However, we have accepted this risk because either our lives don’t depend on it (i.e. cell phones, computers, etc.) or because we have experts standing by to jump in if necessary (i.e. pilots, doctors, etc.). When a simple system reboot does not suffice or experts are not physically available, we dial help lines and call upon customer support to aid in our problems.

However, when it comes to AVs: what would happen in the event of an emergency or failure? The thought of being stranded with your family by the roadside and having to navigate through a helpdesk menu or wait hours for a call back is not something that would be acceptable in an autonomous world. Overcoming the doubts about the reliability of the technology and providing a highly responsive, end-user support system will be the two biggest hurdles that mobility providers will have to overcome to gain broad acceptance among consumers.

The next largest challenge has to do with concerns regarding vehicle performance due to bad weather conditions. Additional performance-related comments had to do with poor road conditions or construction. Of course, there is also the question of performance in more demanding environments, such as off-roading, which interestingly enough leads to a related disadvantage mentioned in another category: the thought of having to give up driving and losing the joy of driving a car. Many drivers are not happy about the thought of losing their freedom to drive or the ability to drive themselves.

While less frequent, concerns about liability and data privacy are also weighing heavy on the minds of consumers. Both of these issues tie back to our experience with technology. Who will be responsible in the event of an accident? What damages will be covered and not covered? Who will be responsible for the condition of the vehicle, especially if it is being shared amongst multiple parties? Ironically, some respondents felt that there would actually be more accidents because they did not trust their fellow drivers to behave responsibly or manage the technology properly.

The fear of lack of data privacy points to another significant concern with AVs. Considering the amount of time we spend in our cars and the amount of interaction that will take place through text, voice, video, sensing, etc., AVs will take the question of data privacy to a whole new level. Morpace is planning to explore this and other issues related to the question of trust and autonomous mobility further in one of its upcoming studies.

 

Electric Vehicle Drivers’ Opinion of AV Advantages

When asked about the expected advantages of AVs, electric vehicle drivers have a wide range of expectations, from safety to cost and environmental issues.

Most notably, electric vehicle drivers expect fewer accidents due to a reduction in distractions or unsafe driving. Furthermore, they expect lower cost of insurance, which could be a function of less accidents but also a lower rate of car ownership.

While many also expect less traffic and lower emissions, the verdict for a majority of people is still out, which shows the uncertainty around certain benefits:

  • Will AV lead to less or more cars on the road?
  • Which powertrain technology will prevail?
  • What will be the mix of autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles?

While many people believe that there will be efficiencies due to the use of autonomous vehicles (i.e. faster commutes), it could be offset by higher traffic volumes or the expectation that “the slowest car will dictate speed on the road.”

Finally, electric vehicle drivers pointed out two more major advantages. First, they noted that AVs will provide options for people who either can’t drive due to age, health, income or legal reasons – or who simply don’t want to drive. Secondly, many consumers mentioned that they expect a reduction in stress and greater happiness, which will contribute to a better quality of life and increased productiveness. The luxury of permanently “being taxied by your own car,” as one responded put it, seems to be a very appealing benefit for many drivers.

As a result, when asked how likely they would consider riding in an AV, 72% of electric vehicle drivers said that they would be “very likely “or “somewhat likely” to do so.

 

Time Spent While Driving in AV

For those with the most positive opinion of AVs, what else do they think and feel? When asked what they would do during the drive, the majority of drivers said they would use it to socialize with others, inside or outside of the vehicle, or simply make good use of the time otherwise. That said, many of the comments also revealed the anxiety that electric vehicle drivers feel when it comes to technology. Their comments ranged from “nervously watch the traffic/road,” to “carefully monitor the technology” and “pay full attention to driving and be completely ready to take over controls.”  In other words, while many drivers dream of a more enjoyable and fun ride, they simply can’t imagine a vehicle performing 100% of their activities 100% of the time with 0% failure yet.

 

AV Price Points for Electric Vehicle Driver

So, given all of the pros and cons, how much more would electric vehicle drivers be willing to spend for a vehicle that has autonomous technology?

On average, electric vehicle drivers indicated that they would be willing to pay an additional $6,000, with answers ranging from $1000 at the low end to $10,000 at the upper end.

The bottom-line is that the automotive industry has the attention of electric vehicle drivers and they are willing to pay for the added value. That said, the expectations are high and there is a healthy level of skepticism about the ability of making the technology work. The promise of a better quality of life is a huge opportunity for everyone involved but it will most likely come in baby steps as we learn to feel our way around the new world of unlimited mobility for everyone.

For more information about our AV research or if you have questions, please contact me and visit morpace.com.

 

*MyDrivingPower is an Insight Community comprised of over 500 electric and hybrid vehicle owners across the U.S., which is managed by the automotive market research professionals at Morpace. Results are based on responses from BEV and PHEV vehicles owners only.

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16
Aug

An Autonomous Future: Consumer Awareness & Opinion about the Emergence of AV

An Autonomous Future: Consumer Awareness & Opinion about the Emergence of AV

For automobile manufacturers, a bold new future has arrived. Technology that adds autonomous features to the driving experience are now available on vehicles by all major manufacturers – inching us ever closer to the day where the driver is a passive, rather than active, participant in the driving experience. To take a closer look at what’s to come, automotive research experts at Market Strategies-Morpace will share their insights in an occasional blog series titled “An Autonomous Future.” In this first blog, we hear from Dania Rich-Spencer, Vice President of Automotive at Market Strategies-Morpace, about how consumers are responding to these new autonomous enhancements.

By: Dania Rich-Spencer, Vice President, Automotive

 

When Chairman and CEO of General Motors Mary Barra wrote an article for the World Economic Forum in 2016, she stated “I believe the auto industry will change more in the next five to 10 years than it has in the last 50.” Given vehicle companies’ quest to transition from a car maker to a valued mobility company offering services that many of us couldn’t even imagine a few years ago, Barra is spot on about the swift transformation of the auto industry.

While automotive manufacturers have historically described themselves as makers of vehicles for personal and commercial use, today’s OEMs refer to their brands as mobility companies. Yes, they still make cars, trucks, and SUVs – but a combination of new connectivity technology and consumers’ willingness to share products and services now enable auto manufacturers to redefine their relationship with customers – and to enhance the vehicle ownership experience.


A Glimpse into Industry Innovation by Today’s Leading OEMs

A Glimpse into Industry Innovation & AV by Today’s Leading OEMs A variety of popular car makers are investing considerable time, money, technology, and talent to make vast transitions within the marketplace. For instance, the General Motors Marketplace app is considered the “automotive industry’s first commerce platform for on-demand reservations and purchases of goods and services.”

Ford positions FordPass as “the app that amplifies your ownership experience…all to help you get from A to B better.”  Lincoln is redefining the traditional lease with a month-to-month subscription service to better meet customers’ needs and attract younger buyers. Cadillac, Volvo, and Porsche are also offering services to complement the traditional car buying/servicing transactional model.

One may argue that the greatest contribution to this transformation is the development of autonomous vehicles (AVs).  While timelines for fully-developed AVs vary by OEM, there is no doubt they are coming.  It reminds me of the quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “…but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” Today, self-driving vehicles are also part of the inevitable! In fact, Mcity Driverless Shuttle, “the first driverless shuttle project in the U.S. focusing on user behavior research” was launched beginning June 2018, on the University of Michigan’s North Campus.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be a part of this automotive industry transformation and look forward to reminiscing with the grandkids about a world before the car was a powerful computing platform that drove itself. However, I often wonder: do other people see this industry transformation in the same light as I do? How does the “regular Joe” feel about the emergence of self-driving vehicles?

Based on my experience as both a vehicle consumer and professional at Market StrategiesMorpace, I know that familiarity drives acceptance of new technology. With that said, how familiar is the general population with AV technology – and how might they see themselves benefiting from these cars?


Insights into Consumer Awareness & Opinion of Autonomous Vehicles Today

Insights into Consumer Awareness & Opinion of Autonomous Vehicles Today To find out, these are some of the questions we explored in the Morpace Automotive Consumer Pulse Study, an online survey* conducted monthly among approximately 1,000 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older.  We noted several surprising findings, including feedback about the level of awareness for self-driving vehicles:

  • Over eight in ten consumers have heard at least some information about companies working on developing self-driving vehicles. This statistic has remained fairly consistent since October 2017, when the study was initially conducted. It is also consistent with other research.
  • While the general public is aware of autonomous vehicles, there is a lot of uncertainty about the implications of self-driving vehicles. People are not sure if there will be more or fewer accidents and fatalities, whether there will be more or fewer vehicles on the road, or if personal ownership will increase or decline.
  • When asked how the development of self-driving vehicles will benefit them personally, responses are almost equally distributed in thirds across “Positive/Negative/Not Sure.”

Since factors like media coverage and clear, enthusiastic, consumer-based marketing affect the current and future awareness of self-driving automobiles, the interplay between these two factors will shape the short-term pace and long-term outcome of the industry.


Demographic Differences in Consumer Awareness

Demographic Differences in Consumer Awareness of Autonomous VehiclesOne aspect is for sure, however – young adults, followed by those with disabilities and those who have lost their license, will be the first to use a self-driving vehicle. In addition, more males than females are engaged with this topic and are more likely to embrace using a self-driving vehicle. Other data shows:

  • Twice as many males compared to females say that they have seen or heard “a lot” about cars and trucks that can operate on their own without a human driver.
  • Almost half of males think self-driving vehicles are positive for them, compared to just under a third of females.
  • Compared to females, almost twice as many males provide a Top2Box rating (9/10) to being open to using a self-driving vehicle.

This gender difference is not surprising to me, but I’m wondering if auto manufacturers are paying attention to the information. Is it too early to charm females to autonomous vehicles?  Given that women influence a significant portion of the vehicle purchase decision, it may be prudent for OEMs to start the marketing process now by crafting a message targeted to women around the positive implications and personal benefits of using and owning an AV.


A Future with Self-Driving Cars

The industry and its consumers are also interested to know which auto maker may be the first to offer a fully autonomous vehicle for personal use. Toyota takes top spot, followed closely by Ford. Similar to their marketing of apps and subscription services, trusted vehicle makers like these must make the benefits of AVs clear to both male and female consumers, as well as those young and old. These include the benefits of Advanced Drive Assistance Systems (ADAS) features, as well as how their self-driving business models will make operating these vehicles both safe and beneficial to daily life.

While OEMs and their partners evolve their marketing strategies, I am optimistic about the future of transportation and the role the autonomous vehicle plays. Here’s to the next few years of unprecedented change – and the wonder it will bring!

 

*The data collected by the Morpace Automotive Consumer Pulse Study are weighted to ensure relevant demographic characteristics of the sample matched those of the U.S. general population.  All respondents are weighted to U.S. Census Bureau demographic profiles for the U.S. population 18+ on gender, age, income and ethnicity.

 

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22
Apr

The Connected Car and Consumer Privacy

The Connected Car and Consumer PrivacyBy: Andrew Fixler, Senior Project Director

On March 21st during the keynote address of the Apple Event, CEO Tim Cook reaffirmed the company’s commitment to privacy. Early in his speech he addressed Apple customers directly, saying, “We believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy.”

Leaving the legal analysis to others, consumer satisfaction is more in our line of work as researchers. In our studies relating to the appeal of new features for vehicle makes and models that will be available in the future, consumer feedback demonstrates a clear demand to enhance connectivity. If phones are our new personal assistants and keepers of our secrets, automobiles are increasingly becoming our mobile offices and logistics coordinators.

Current telematics tools with direct relevance to the automotive industry include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, to further increase safety and convenience, automotive manufacturers and suppliers are now preparing for a future where all vehicles are connected to each other, along with the infrastructure that surrounds them. Privacy becomes even more complex if future users feel they should control the information that connects to vehicles from car sharing services like ZipCar or Uber.

Knowing that connected cars are here to stay, how should automakers deal with their customers’ need for in-vehicle security, privacy, and encryption? As of now, automakers are actively seeking ways to keep vehicle software safe from hacking. Developing a comprehensive privacy policy may be the next logical step.

Recent news of the collegial agreement between 20 automakers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to make autonomous emergency braking standard by 2022 proves that creating industry guidelines for new technology is possible. This process may be a model for the development of best practices for privacy and connectivity in automobiles, aligning the interests of all stakeholders.

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