Drive Shift | January Edition: Tesla's Game-Changer, the Scooter Wars, and the New In-Car Experience

What is Tesla’s EV production game-changer that is set to transform the industry?

The shift to electric vehicles (EVs) marks a crucial leap toward a greener, more sustainable future of mobility. Yet, the road to widespread EV adoption is filled with hurdles, as we discussed in our report. From high production costs trickling down to consumers, to the environmental toll of manufacturing, and concerns over vehicle weight impacting both safety and pollution, Stakeholders along the supply chain have a lot on their plate. But there's a game-changing solution on the horizon: Gigacasting. This innovative approach isn't just a fix; it's a revolution in EV manufacturing.

Gigacasting is a EV manufacturing technique that involves casting large and complex components, such as the structural body, in a single piece. This process, which is powered by massive machines, helps reduce the overall weight of the vehicle, enhances energy efficiency,and significantly shortens the production time of each vehicle. Gigacasting also simplifies manufacturing, improves structural integrity, and can lead to cost savings in the production of EVs. Unsurprisingly, and like quite a few technological aspects in the EV world, the pioneer in this matter is Tesla, which has been using this technique since 2020 for its Model Y vehicles in various Giga factories.

While in recent years this revolutionary method has been somewhat under the radar, in recent months it has made headlines as it appears that Tesla's competitors have also "discovered" this technology.  Last month it was announced that the production of the first EV of the Chinese electronics company Xiaomi, the SU7, was based in part on the use of a method similar to Tesla's Gigacasting. Furthermore, GM reportedly recently acquired one of Tesla's Gigacasting process suppliers to accelerate the adoption and implementation of the technology in its EV manufacturing process. Other reports suggest that OEMs such as Toyota and Volvo as well as Tier1 companies such Aisin also adopt the technology for their EV operations.

Gigacasting is catching on, accelerating and is expected to improve the manufacturing process of EVs. However, several challenges must be noted. First, Gigacasting presents challenges in terms of initial investment and setup costs, as the technology requires specialized equipment and facilities. Furthermore, the process may limit design flexibility compared to traditional manufacturing methods, potentially constraining the creativity of vehicle designs. Additionally, if a gigacasting component is damaged, repairing or replacing the entire piece could be more complex and costly than addressing individual components.

In conclusion, gigacasting promises a much more efficient production process for EVs, and it will be intriguing to see how widespread their use will be and if they can become even more efficient.

What is Lime's Gain, and Bird's Pain in the Urban Mobility Race?

It is more than a decade that shared micromobility vehicles have been an integral part of the urban landscape of countless cities around the world. The shared micromobility programs, first in their non-motorized version and now in the electrically powered version held great promise for a significant improvement in urban mobility. The big promise was that these scooters and bikes can offer a convenient and eco-friendly alternative for short-distance commuting and reduce traffic congestion. In accordance with the great potential, over the years dozens if not hundreds of service providers have emerged globally, when some of them, such as Lime, Bird and Tier were managed to become unicorns and operate millions of rides every year.

However, as the market grew and the micromobility vehicles occupied a larger volume in the public space, the attitude towards them also became less sympathetic. One prominent issue which led to this feeling is safety concerns, as accidents and injuries became more prevalent due to factors such as inadequate rider education and a lack of designated infrastructure. Additionally, the haphazard parking of e-scooters, often blocking sidewalks and public spaces, raised issues of accessibility and urban aesthetics. These troubling issues have led some cities like Las Vegas and Paris and countries like Malta, to strictly ban the use of e-scooters in their territory, a major setback for the providers and some potential consumers.

The increasing regulatory oversight is certainly not helpful for the suppliers who are already operating in a very complex market. The extensive competition in the market, whether by similar service providers or by the alternatives (public transportation, ride hailing, car sharing or just walking...) along with the complex operation, brought some of the prominent players in the market to a crash this year. For example, Bird, one of the pioneers of the market, filed documents for bankruptcy last December after a year of constant deterioration which was reflected in the drop of its stock that eventually led to its delisting last September. Other significant players such as micromobility.com (formerly known as Helbiz) and Tier had a difficult year with negative milestones.

Although it seemed like a chaotic year for the market, alongside the big falls there are also players moving in the opposite direction. Take Lime for example, which seems to have taken the lead in the market. According to the company's announcements in preparation for an upcoming IPO, this year it managed to significantly expand its operations and reach profitability, an achievement that most competitors over the years have not been able to achieve.

The future of the market is an enigma, when the need is clear but so are the problems. 2024 will be a critical test for the industry and it will be fascinating to follow the developments.

How did ChatGPT, Augmented Reality and Gaming Consoles redefine your in-car experience?

In a future world where cars are completely autonomous and passengers can even sit with their backs to the direction of travel, it can be estimated that the value proposition of mobility services will focus much more on the in car-experience than any other aspect. Features such as entertainment and information (a combination known as infotainment), comfort and safety will be able to determine which mobility services passengers will choose. In fact, OEMs are not waiting for the autonomous era to begin and are already developing and investing in technologies that can enhance passenger experiences.

This month, BMW introduced in the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) its new augmented reality glasses project, which in the future will allow passengers to virtually play, navigate and receive road and vehicle information using glasses that will be adjusted to the vehicle's environment. While BMW's augmented reality feature was presented as a concept, in the coming year BMW is expected to provide a special user experience in some of its vehicles, based on other features. As part of it, the passengers and the driver (when the vehicle is parked or charging) will be able to watch VOD content or play on game consoles embedded in the vehicle, thanks to partnership with gaming platform, AirConsole .  

Another in-car experience feature that accelerates lately deals with the way of “talking” with our car.  While a car voice assistant is not a particularly new concept, the integration of ChatGPT in vehicles can take in-car communications capabilities to another level. This month, also at CES, Volkswagen announced that it intends to implement a ChatGPT-based voice assistant in a variety of vehicles during the year. The purpose of the upgraded voice assistant is to provide more pleasant and personalized navigation, alert and entertainment services than the "traditional" assistants. It is important to note that Volkswagen is not the first to announce this innovation, as in the last year also other OEMs such as GM, Stellantis and Mercedes-Benz announced that they intend to provide these services to their customers.

Of course, as the field of in-car experience develops, so will questions about its shortcomings, certainly when the autonomous future is still far away. Issues such as safety and distraction of the driver, privacy and ethical concerns, addiction to screens and others can be challenging and create difficulties for the developing market. However, the unprecedented efficiency and human experience that these and other technologies can provide may be a game changer.

In the coming years it will be interesting to understand whether this is an insignificant gimmick or a major influencer shaping the direction of the industry.

What is Tesla’s EV production game-changer that is set to transform the industry?

The shift to electric vehicles (EVs) marks a crucial leap toward a greener, more sustainable future of mobility. Yet, the road to widespread EV adoption is filled with hurdles, as we discussed in our report. From high production costs trickling down to consumers, to the environmental toll of manufacturing, and concerns over vehicle weight impacting both safety and pollution, Stakeholders along the supply chain have a lot on their plate. But there's a game-changing solution on the horizon: Gigacasting. This innovative approach isn't just a fix; it's a revolution in EV manufacturing.

Gigacasting is a EV manufacturing technique that involves casting large and complex components, such as the structural body, in a single piece. This process, which is powered by massive machines, helps reduce the overall weight of the vehicle, enhances energy efficiency,and significantly shortens the production time of each vehicle. Gigacasting also simplifies manufacturing, improves structural integrity, and can lead to cost savings in the production of EVs. Unsurprisingly, and like quite a few technological aspects in the EV world, the pioneer in this matter is Tesla, which has been using this technique since 2020 for its Model Y vehicles in various Giga factories.

While in recent years this revolutionary method has been somewhat under the radar, in recent months it has made headlines as it appears that Tesla's competitors have also "discovered" this technology.  Last month it was announced that the production of the first EV of the Chinese electronics company Xiaomi, the SU7, was based in part on the use of a method similar to Tesla's Gigacasting. Furthermore, GM reportedly recently acquired one of Tesla's Gigacasting process suppliers to accelerate the adoption and implementation of the technology in its EV manufacturing process. Other reports suggest that OEMs such as Toyota and Volvo as well as Tier1 companies such Aisin also adopt the technology for their EV operations.

Gigacasting is catching on, accelerating and is expected to improve the manufacturing process of EVs. However, several challenges must be noted. First, Gigacasting presents challenges in terms of initial investment and setup costs, as the technology requires specialized equipment and facilities. Furthermore, the process may limit design flexibility compared to traditional manufacturing methods, potentially constraining the creativity of vehicle designs. Additionally, if a gigacasting component is damaged, repairing or replacing the entire piece could be more complex and costly than addressing individual components.

In conclusion, gigacasting promises a much more efficient production process for EVs, and it will be intriguing to see how widespread their use will be and if they can become even more efficient.

What is Lime's Gain, and Bird's Pain in the Urban Mobility Race?

It is more than a decade that shared micromobility vehicles have been an integral part of the urban landscape of countless cities around the world. The shared micromobility programs, first in their non-motorized version and now in the electrically powered version held great promise for a significant improvement in urban mobility. The big promise was that these scooters and bikes can offer a convenient and eco-friendly alternative for short-distance commuting and reduce traffic congestion. In accordance with the great potential, over the years dozens if not hundreds of service providers have emerged globally, when some of them, such as Lime, Bird and Tier were managed to become unicorns and operate millions of rides every year.

However, as the market grew and the micromobility vehicles occupied a larger volume in the public space, the attitude towards them also became less sympathetic. One prominent issue which led to this feeling is safety concerns, as accidents and injuries became more prevalent due to factors such as inadequate rider education and a lack of designated infrastructure. Additionally, the haphazard parking of e-scooters, often blocking sidewalks and public spaces, raised issues of accessibility and urban aesthetics. These troubling issues have led some cities like Las Vegas and Paris and countries like Malta, to strictly ban the use of e-scooters in their territory, a major setback for the providers and some potential consumers.

The increasing regulatory oversight is certainly not helpful for the suppliers who are already operating in a very complex market. The extensive competition in the market, whether by similar service providers or by the alternatives (public transportation, ride hailing, car sharing or just walking...) along with the complex operation, brought some of the prominent players in the market to a crash this year. For example, Bird, one of the pioneers of the market, filed documents for bankruptcy last December after a year of constant deterioration which was reflected in the drop of its stock that eventually led to its delisting last September. Other significant players such as micromobility.com (formerly known as Helbiz) and Tier had a difficult year with negative milestones.

Although it seemed like a chaotic year for the market, alongside the big falls there are also players moving in the opposite direction. Take Lime for example, which seems to have taken the lead in the market. According to the company's announcements in preparation for an upcoming IPO, this year it managed to significantly expand its operations and reach profitability, an achievement that most competitors over the years have not been able to achieve.

The future of the market is an enigma, when the need is clear but so are the problems. 2024 will be a critical test for the industry and it will be fascinating to follow the developments.

How did ChatGPT, Augmented Reality and Gaming Consoles redefine your in-car experience?

In a future world where cars are completely autonomous and passengers can even sit with their backs to the direction of travel, it can be estimated that the value proposition of mobility services will focus much more on the in car-experience than any other aspect. Features such as entertainment and information (a combination known as infotainment), comfort and safety will be able to determine which mobility services passengers will choose. In fact, OEMs are not waiting for the autonomous era to begin and are already developing and investing in technologies that can enhance passenger experiences.

This month, BMW introduced in the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) its new augmented reality glasses project, which in the future will allow passengers to virtually play, navigate and receive road and vehicle information using glasses that will be adjusted to the vehicle's environment. While BMW's augmented reality feature was presented as a concept, in the coming year BMW is expected to provide a special user experience in some of its vehicles, based on other features. As part of it, the passengers and the driver (when the vehicle is parked or charging) will be able to watch VOD content or play on game consoles embedded in the vehicle, thanks to partnership with gaming platform, AirConsole .  

Another in-car experience feature that accelerates lately deals with the way of “talking” with our car.  While a car voice assistant is not a particularly new concept, the integration of ChatGPT in vehicles can take in-car communications capabilities to another level. This month, also at CES, Volkswagen announced that it intends to implement a ChatGPT-based voice assistant in a variety of vehicles during the year. The purpose of the upgraded voice assistant is to provide more pleasant and personalized navigation, alert and entertainment services than the "traditional" assistants. It is important to note that Volkswagen is not the first to announce this innovation, as in the last year also other OEMs such as GM, Stellantis and Mercedes-Benz announced that they intend to provide these services to their customers.

Of course, as the field of in-car experience develops, so will questions about its shortcomings, certainly when the autonomous future is still far away. Issues such as safety and distraction of the driver, privacy and ethical concerns, addiction to screens and others can be challenging and create difficulties for the developing market. However, the unprecedented efficiency and human experience that these and other technologies can provide may be a game changer.

In the coming years it will be interesting to understand whether this is an insignificant gimmick or a major influencer shaping the direction of the industry.