Airfoil POV
Alternative Energy Vehicles, Clean Technologies
Going Mainstream – Pipe Dream or Reality?
It’s Time for Automo...
Airfoil POV // Cleantech

                           Green-collar career creation. Re-manufacturing of manufacturing.
Airfoil POV // Cleantech

                           Automakers Continue to Make Promises

Airfoil POV // Cleantech

                             “When I was a news reporter for the Tech Center News/Detroit Aut...
Airfoil POV // Cleantech

                                                                              Why can’t we sw...
Airfoil POV // Cleantech

                           Glimmers of Hope with In-Vehicle Technology

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Alternative Energy Vehicles, Clean Technologies Going Mainstream – Pipe Dream or Reality?


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We urge the automotive industry to look no further than the technology industry for inspiration, for best practices, for partnerships. Technology companies are fast companies. They have created a way of moving forward and placing the latest and greatest, often inconceivable, capabilities quickly in the hands of customers.

Tech developers also have much to learn from the best manufacturing practices of automotive companies.

Bringing these two industries together can propel the U.S. into regaining its manufacturing dominance and becoming a world leader in advanced automotive technologies, including alternative-energy vehicles. The Point of View lays out five steps that auto and tech companies should take to make it a reality.

Published in: Automotive, Technology, Business
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Alternative Energy Vehicles, Clean Technologies Going Mainstream – Pipe Dream or Reality?

  1. 1. Airfoil POV Alternative Energy Vehicles, Clean Technologies Going Mainstream – Pipe Dream or Reality? It’s Time for Automotive and Technology Industries to Embrace Partnerships, Best Practices and Communications to Accelerate Clean Technology and Regain U.S. Manufacturing Dominance By Airfoil Public Relations
  2. 2. Airfoil POV // Cleantech Green-collar career creation. Re-manufacturing of manufacturing. High-tech. Economic rebound. Agile. Alternative energy. Clean technologies. Sustainable products. Green. Compare this vision of our nation with another reality: High unemployment. Jobs moving to Mexico. Made in China. Low-tech. Recession. Chapter 11. Bailouts. Idle plants. Slow and bureaucratic. The internal combustion engine. Volatile fuel prices. Trucks, SUVs and dismal fuel economy. Non-recyclable products. We are at a major crossroads impacting where we can take this country—our manufacturing base, automotive industry and cleantech sectors. We need to re-industrialize the United States; create careers (not just jobs); cost-effectively manufacture sustainable goods; be on the leading edge of technology; and become a world leader in clean, sustainable products, including alternative energy vehicles. Now is the time for all of us—Detroit, Silicon Valley and everywhere in between—all communicators, analysts, the automotive industry, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, the U.S. government and states across the country to make the appropriate investment in our future, right here, right now. It begins with communications and action. It begins with delivering on promises. 2
  3. 3. Airfoil POV // Cleantech Automakers Continue to Make Promises One of the sad ironies of the technology age is that the industry that invented speed has come to symbolize the antithesis of the “fast company.” Despite their rebirth and renewal in 2009 and their reinvigorated focus on clean technology, the automotive companies—primarily the domestic automakers—still are viewed as bureaucratic and slow in comparison with the agile tech firms that bring us build-to-order products delivered in days or weeks, new paradigm-changing online services every few weeks and new types of mobile phones every few months. Automakers have talked too long—for at least a decade or two—about the revolutionary alternative-energy vehicles that are on the horizon. They have talked about plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, clean diesel-powered cars, natural gas vehicles, hydrogen fuels and fuel cells. They’ve shown us concept cars, timelines and mileage claims; but when was the last time you passed an electric vehicle on a U.S. interstate or pulled up next to a hydrogen car being refueled? Fuel economy has improved slightly over the years. In 2009, according to Automotive News, the U.S. fleet averaged only 25.3 mpg. For the 2016 model year, the corporate average fuel economy proposal rises to only 35.5 mpg. It’s lack of speed that is stalling the automotive industry. “As a kid in the 1970s during the oil embargo, I remember the long lines at the gas pump and rotating days when you could get gas based on whether the last digit of your license plate number was odd or even,” recalls Rich Donley, vice president and technology industry leader for the Airfoil Public Relations Cleantech and Industrial practice areas. “Fast forward 35 years to mid-2008 when gas hovered at $4 a gallon and sales of pickup trucks and SUVs tanked. There was suddenly renewed interest in smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Surprised? Did we not see this coming? Have we just been procrastinating?” How much longer do we have to wait for efficiencies, innovation and cleantech/ alternative energy that will become mainstream? Will we just be replacing our reliance on fossil fuels with other limited resources, even more manufactured goods from overseas or other alternatives that are costly and harmful to the environment? From the announcements and products unveiled at the LA Auto Show in December 2009 and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2010, there’s hope that in time we will get there. The auto industry is making some promising moves toward green, cleantech and alternative energy vehicles, but we have a long way to go. 3
  4. 4. Airfoil POV // Cleantech “When I was a news reporter for the Tech Center News/Detroit Auto Scene in the early 1990s covering General Motors, as well as reporting on Ford, Chrysler, automotive suppliers, defense contractors and other businesses, I had the opportunity to experience many advanced technologies firsthand, including riding shotgun in a GM EV1 electric car,” Donley said. “There was much hype from these companies about what was to come. Nearly 20 years later, only a small percentage of those technologies are now in vehicles.” Auto Industry Must Look to Technology Industry for Inspiration and Partnerships The auto industry needs to look no further than the technology industry for inspiration, for best practices, for partnerships. Technology companies are fast companies. They are built for speed and agility. They have created a way of moving forward and placing the latest and greatest, often inconceivable, “The auto industry capabilities quickly in the hands of customers. needs to look no further than the technology “While establishing our Detroit and Silicon Valley offices and representing industry for inspiration, numerous start-up and established businesses—including technology firms, for best practices, for major consumer brands, software companies, automotive suppliers and partnerships.” advanced manufacturers, I’ve seen innovations of all sorts first hand. I’ve seen what fast companies are capable of bringing to market and what hinders their success,” said Janet Tyler, president and co-founder of Airfoil Public Relations. “The technology industry does not have the bandwidth for hype and concept products and timelines—it’s too busy rolling out actual products that we can use, right away. Automotive companies say, ‘Look at what’s coming.’ Technology companies say, ‘Experience it today.’” In Silicon Valley and throughout the technology industry, entrepreneurs have developed tens of thousands of mobile phone apps in just weeks. Seemingly within days after its introduction, Microsoft’s Surface supersized touch-screen technology was being used regularly by TV networks to display weather maps, battle lines and election results. RSS feeds became the rage and, within months, yielded to the next generation of feeds—Twitter. Keyboards and mice are being replaced by touch screens, documents on CDs by digital file delivery services like YouSendIt, and even software by online “cloud- based” services. 4
  5. 5. Airfoil POV // Cleantech Why can’t we swap out an interior or a dashboard display the way we A Model Changeover: Auto & Tech Need to Work can re-skin a computer screen? Cooperatively and Improve Communications Why can’t we get, for example, It’s time for the automotive and technology industries to embrace a Jeep v2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 over a partnerships, share best practices and speak the same language to accelerate clean technology and enable the U.S. to regain its period of months with upgraded manufacturing dominance. software, extended capabilities It’s debatable whether the automotive industry’s current development and increasingly user-friendly model will enable auto companies to move fast enough for a given interfaces? vehicle to avoid becoming outdated by the time it is introduced. A major tier-one automotive To initiate a new type of model changeover, the automotive and technology industries need not only to work together, but also to supplier showcased a crash communicate with each other more effectively. avoidance system in the mid- 1990s. What has taken so long for Here’s what needs to happen: this safety technology to recently 1. The automotive and technology industries must forge true find its way into vehicles and to be partnerships and share best practices. This approach is critical if technology companies, including cleantech startups (in widely accepted by consumers? transportation, efficiency, storage and infrastructure segments) want to be taken seriously by automakers/industrial companies Automotive suppliers continue to and if the automotive/industrial companies want to be on the work on these technologies and leading edge of technology. an array of innovations. Many 2. Automotive/industrial needs to be more agile and innovative and of these new developments introduce new and green technologies into its products. center on clean technology— 3. Technology/cleantech companies must understand the needs of developments that reduce weight the well-established automotive/industrial companies to become and improve fuel economy; their supplier partners. decrease environmental footprints; 4. The automotive, technology and cleantech industries need use natural fibers; help restore air, to speak the same “language”—not only to improve time to market, but also to make vehicles better, more efficient and land and water resources; and environmentally friendlier, while still being affordable. create good-paying “green collar” careers in the process. 5. Communicators should not communicate for communications sake, but to drive action, to create and foster fast companies, and to bridge the gap between technology/cleantech and However, suppliers need to automotive/industrial. develop them faster, better and cheaper and communicate their Headquartered in the Detroit area (Southfield, Mich.) with an office in Silicon Valley (Mountain View, Calif.) and practice areas value to OEMs more effectively. dedicated to cleantech and automotive/industrial technology, For their part, OEMs must adopt Airfoil more than ever supports the automakers, the Detroit these systems more quickly and region and Michigan. We are invested in its success and are committed to being part of the solution. Our work with a number make them available as upgrades of clients has enabled Airfoil to bridge the gap between these distinct to their customers as regularly as market segments, increase the awareness of our clients’ brands and Web social networks make new build their business. apps and features available to their members. 5
  6. 6. Airfoil POV // Cleantech Glimmers of Hope with In-Vehicle Technology Looking inside the vehicle, some glimmers of hope can be found. The convergence of automotive and technology is quite apparent and has become more mainstream across a number of vehicle segments. In-vehicle technology sales were expected to top $9.3 billion in 2009, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, which, at its annual international consumer technology tradeshow in January 2010, prominently featured the latest in-vehicle technology. But will the auto companies continue to evolve and integrate these in-vehicle technologies fast enough? An explosion of new technologies and capabilities, including entertainment, navigation systems and all sorts of apps have been developed to carry in your pocket, not just in your instrument panel. Will we see an integration of these handheld devices right into the instrument panel to replace the current stereo and navigation systems? As Wired points out, Toyota rolled out its Monet Internet service in 1997 to drivers in Japan giving them in-car wireless Internet access, but this added technology feature has only recently been a hot topic with domestic automakers. While differences certainly are clear in automotive and technology products— the way they are designed, engineered, manufactured and delivered, their life spans, durability, safety and environmental regulations (or lack thereof), costs and number of components—they also have a number of similarities (including technology to optimize product design and simulation) and best practices that can be shared. We Must Communicate and Act Now Alternative-energy vehicles and clean technologies will go mainstream. The transition is taking longer than it should, but together we can embrace the partnerships, best practices and communications to accelerate the process, act upon the plans and deliver on the promises. But we must act now. Are you on board? Contact Us Airfoil Public Relations 866-AIRFOIL 1000 Town Center Drive, Suite 600 Rich Donley: Southfield, Michigan 48075 Janet Tyler: 6