Vehicle engineering, design and electrification discussed at 2024 SAE WCX

"The Future of Automotive and Mobility Companies:  The Business Case for Sustainable Growth & Innovation" panel discussion at 2024 SAE WCX. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

Detroit — The 2024 SAE WCX (World Congress Experience) was held today at Huntington Place in downtown Detroit.  WCX provides the opportunity to see the developments and innovation in the mobility industry that will shape our future.  One of the topics discussed was:  “The Future of Automotive and Mobility Companies:  The Business Case for Sustainable Growth & Innovation.”

John Waraniak, Have Blue LLC, was the moderator of this discussion.  He said “We have an exciting group of folks here.  We will have three different perspectives today.  One from engineering, another from design, and another from the venture and supply team.”

“Today’s presentation will include championing climate action, championing social impact, and responsible changes.  The whole idea is to make cars faster, safer, cooler and better.  The business case for sustainable growth and innovation is based on three different things: 1-business model, 2-revenue model and 3-organization model.  How do you deliver that?  You need all three.” says Waraniak.

“Two topics we will be talking about today are design and technology.  Great design inspire passion.  Simple design is not simple.  It takes a lot of brainpower.  The best measure of a brand is its culture.  Technology is much more of a competitive differentiate.  Also, we are going to hear about storytelling from Bill,” added Waraniak.

Kristen Tabar, Toyota North America Inc., says electrification is where its at.  “This is an important topic.  Innovation is what we are all about, creating a better solution for our customers.  Sustainability is about how to meet customer’s needs without compromising future customer needs.  Mobility is about moving people, things and information.  It’s about not leaving anyone behind in that journey.  We want everyone to be a part of that mobility transportation innovation,” says Tabar.

“Some innovations are:  Cockpit, hydrogen, energy, customer features, auto driving assist systems, and people and partnerships.  It’s about the excitement of building these things for our customers.  Most important is how we are changing people while working on various projects.  We work on various products, like things that are energy and environment based.  These are the few of the things that innovation is the key.  How do we make products that customers feel good about?  Technology is an explosion in our field.  Whether we’re talking about safety, and some of these things that are automated-systems related to not only to the occupants in our vehicle or the people riding adjacent to us in other vehicles.  All of these things are converging,” added Tabar.

William Mangan, Ford Motor Company, talked about design.  “Storytelling puts our customers at the center of what we do.  The stories we create lead to more human-centered solutions.”  He showed us illustrations regarding the Bronco and talked about family sharing experiences.  It brings people together.  The design of the Bronco illustrates their needs and wants.  You can immerse yourself in the space of the Bronco.  It is more customer focused and it is very cost effective.  While sketching the final design, it is designed for the customer.  The Bronco is titled “Built Wild” as it takes you on an adventure as free as your imagination.  We connect generations to meet their needs,” added Mangan.

Anirvan Coomer, GM Ventures, has a strong belief in the power of partnerships.  “The two hotspots in innovation are the EV ecosystem and the Ultium platform.”  The Ultium platform is a combination of up to three motors and multiple battery modules for incredible versatility and power.  “This is a prime example of innovation so we can produce affordable EV’s that people can afford to buy.  We are working on building a strong and secure EV system that makes a sustainable ecosystem.  We are also developing a more resilient North American manufacturing and supply chain ecosystem for EV growth.  Our partnerships, some are short term and some are long term.”

“At GM, we transform our software development that enables seamless delivery of features and services to our customers over the air.  Software-defined experiences include vehicle themes, personalized setting, driver assist features, performance upgrades and new GM apps.  GM Ventures played a key role in electrification ecosystems by 1-connecting the customer through batteries, motors, power electronics, seamless charging, and sustainable design and materials, 2-autonomous experience with sensory interactions, cloud services and voice interaction, and 3-digital enterprise with cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning and new business solutions.  We are working with partners to do this.” says Coomer. 

In conclusion, there was question and answer session.  One particular question was: “I am a student about to graduate, how do I get into the business?  Kristen Tabar answered, “We are looking for people who have the ability to solve problems.”  Anirvan Coomer answered, “We need people with curiosity, who pushes boundaries, and has passion about making a change.”  William Mangan answered “We want people who bring ideas forward and has diverse background experience.”

The 2024 SAE WCX continues through Thursday at The Huntington Place in downtown Detroit. It is only open to those individuals in the automotive industry. For more info, go to:

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