Last week I was listening to a podcast by Lucid Motors SVP Mike Bell (ex-Apple, ex-Rivian) about what the Lucid Air and upcoming Lucid SUV code called Gravity due for release in 2024 is like very different from any other car on the road, including Tesla.
Since Tesla has also been heavily influenced by Apple, it will be interesting to see the differences Apple brings to this market when it finally announces its electric car.
The direction of these three companies appears to be in lockstep. It’s a shift from the traditional priorities of legacy automakers to a model that’s more in line with a tech company. Car companies like Lucid and Tesla are more like Apple than GM or Ford – which I think will eventually become a problem for GM and Ford.
I’ve also received updated briefings from Nvidia and Qualcomm on how they are approaching autonomous driving, which could be a complementary approach for next-gen EVs.
Let’s talk about the future of electric cars, and we’ll end with my product of the week: an update on the Barthesian bartender robot from, no kidding, Black+Decker.
Nvidia and Qualcomm Vehicle Tech
Nvidia’s Drive platform is heavily used in Lucid vehicles. It is a comprehensive offering set that covers the technology stack for autonomous cars from conception and simulation to training and inference in the cars. Much of its strength, however, lies in Nvidia’s Omniverse simulation capability, which is widely used in the automotive industry.
Qualcomm is more focused on reducing costs on the car side of this equation with compelling in-car technology that’s both cheaper and better than the other alternatives on paper.
With car companies focused on margin, one can see a world emerging where Nvidia might own much of the backend and control structure for autonomous cars, and Qualcomm could be present with the associated self-driving capabilities in most cars. Qualcomm has proven that its ability to keep smartphone costs down translates into in-car solutions that do much the same thing.
An increasingly possible future sees Nvidia providing much of the autonomous car backend, while Qualcomm provides the multi-layered in-vehicle computer vision technology.
Interaction between car and driver
I drove behind a Lucid car (pictured above) last week and have to admit I found the car fascinating to look at. It really isn’t like any other car on the road. Both the performance data and the price are surprising.
In terms of performance, they offer a 0-60 acceleration time of up to 2.5 seconds, up to 1,111 hp, up to 168 mph and a range of up to 520 miles, which is the best in its class at the moment is. But that feat will cost you close to $200,000.
On the other hand, you can argue that you’re basically getting four cars for the price of one: a sports car, a family car, an SUV, and a van (it has a massive amount of luggage space), all in one vehicle.
Lucid also shows a rethinking of the interaction between the car and its driver. Previously, the driver had to learn how to operate the car. Every car is different enough that most drivers may never learn how to use all of the features. For example, I have never been able to successfully use my car’s self-parking feature.
The Lucid model learns to work with you, learns your preferences, and that data can be transferred from car to car, so you’ll never again have the problem of not being able to properly use a feature you’ve purchased.
Lucid goes further than most to present a solution that is not just software defined, but potentially easier to upgrade and update over time, keeping the cars running longer than they might otherwise.
I’m quite frustrated with the more traditional automakers because you can almost bet they’ll do an upgrade right after you buy a new car that can’t be retrofitted, and you would have gotten it if you’d known it was coming.
For example, I bought a Mercedes a few years ago. At some point between ordering the car and its delivery, they put one of the features I ordered in a different package that wasn’t available when I ordered my car and because I hadn’t selected that package (again, it still wasn’t at the time of my order not even available) they deleted the feature from the car.
The only way to get it back was to pay 3x what it had previously cost. This massive increase in cost was because it was far more expensive to add this feature after the car was built.
Lucid and Tesla have both shown that they are much better at upgrading their cars post-purchase. As the industry embraces the concept of Cars-as-a-Service, this ability to change a car’s configuration after it leaves the factory opens the door not only to a greater opportunity for used car dealers, but to a far longer, happier relationship with the car cars we end up buying.
Instead of replacing a perfectly healthy car after three years because it was obsolete, imagine updating the vehicle to be almost identical to a new one.
Lucid’s technology-focused, software-focused approach also means many of these upgrades can be part of a service, much like some of the more interesting improvements to Tesla vehicles over the years. Tesla remains one of the few auto companies where drivers look forward to software updates because Tesla builds in pleasant surprises, and Lucid is trying to outperform Tesla in that regard.
One reason Lucid can potentially outperform Tesla is through its use of Nvidia Drive, which remains a unique way for smaller automakers to match or exceed the capabilities of the larger firms by leveraging Nvidia’s extensive resources. It really is a game changer.
As we move toward mid-decade, our in-car experiences will change dramatically, becoming not only more customizable for the buyer, but also automatically adapting to that buyer post-sale to provide a level of personalized experience that has yet to exist never seen in the technology market, let alone in the automotive market.
Once this is done, the technology market may need to pick up on some of the automotive industry’s advances in order to better compete in its segment, as this concept of a product that adapts to the unique needs of the user represents a competitive revolution.
It’s hard to imagine how, given a choice, a customer would ever settle for the old-school way of forced learning and lack of flexibility in the increasingly smart personal technologies, devices, and vehicles they buy.
Companies like Lucid, Rivian, Tesla, Nvidia and Qualcomm are propelling the automotive market into a future that is much more responsive to the needs of their buyers. That’s good news for our future of shopping, albeit likely not until the second half of the decade.
The ‘bev’ by Black+Decker
We were one of the first owners of the Bartesian bartender robotand we have been enjoying the product for several years since it came out.
However, there was anger at how the alcohol was retained in the device and how painful it was to fill it with water, which often spilled. We left one of the alcohol bottles in place without cleaning it for too long and it got stuck. So we went in search of a replacement, only to find that Black+Decker created a newer version of the Bartesian name esp (small b) and it’s awesome!
Let’s start with the fact that we had to swap bottles of rum and gin when preparing drinks at old Bartesian’s because he only held four kinds of schnapps. The new version includes five different bottles and uses the bottles that hold the alcohol, so you no longer have to clean the bottles, just throw them away when they’re empty. Additionally, it offers a sixth bottle for water, so you can just fill it under the tap (don’t try to fill it from the fridge; you’ll get water all over the floor).
The on-demand cocktail maker “bev” (Image credit: Bartesian)
The device has lights underneath the bottles that can light up when the drinks are being prepared or cycle when not in use, making for quite an impressive display in your kitchen or bar. Where the old Bartesian had a display that guided you through making a drink, the Bev has five buttons. The first four are for the drink size and the last one starts to make the drink, which is much faster and more fun.
The Bev uses the same pods as the old Bartesian but lacks a water cooler so you have to supply the ice. But the result looks better, is far less messy (the old Bartesian leaked occasionally when filling) and has worked flawlessly so far.
On a hot day, and we get plenty of those, a cold rum punch is a nice way to end the day; and sitting outside with a chilled cocktail at the weekend helps make it worthwhile.
Priced at around $300, Black+Decker’s new Bev is my product of the week. Bottom up!
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.
Lucid, Nvidia and the Rapidly Changing Future of Electric Cars Source link Lucid, Nvidia and the Rapidly Changing Future of Electric Cars