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April 16, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Four quadrants driving the future of the automotive industry

Brett Smith, who has spent nearly 35 years analyzing the industry, will describe the quadrants during his keynote address at next week's Electric Vehicle Battery Innovations Conference in Cleveland.

Brett Smith says there are four quadrants driving the future of the automotive industry, and he will address them – one in particular – during a keynote presentation on April 27 at the “Electric Vehicle Battery Innovations Conference” at the PIE Innovation Center in Cleveland.

He’s a 23-year veteran of the Ann Arbor, MI-based Center for Automotive Research (CAR) who retired as a Research Fellow earlier this month. CAR produces independent research, convenes stakeholders, and analyzes critical issues facing the mobility industry and its impact on the economy and society. Prior to joining the well-respected organization, Smith spent nearly 12 years with the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation at the University of Michigan.

So, over 35 years, he’s seen a lot of change and says today’s issues are “the most challenging upheaval in the industry (in) forever.” The title of Smith’s presentation – “The Transition to Electrification: An Industry in Revolution” – underscores the point.

The four quadrants are sustainability, automated and connected vehicles, digital transformation, and electrification.

“All four of them are remarkably expensive,” Smith told us in a recent interview, saying that a new car will typically have $10,000 worth of driver-assisted technologies. “It’s not just a connected car but a connected industry.”

On the electrification front, Smith said that there has been $53 billion of investments announced recently for automotive assembly plants, and $50 billion was to produce electric vehicles.

“There’s an enormous amount if investment in Michigan and the Southeast,” he explained. “It’s not additive but replacement. The jobs are not additive but are a shift; they’re digital,” representing a convergence of information technology and operational technology.

Of the other two quadrants, Smith explained that digital involves the full continuum, while sustainability came to the forefront during COVID-19.

Those interested in registering for the conference can do so at this link.

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