Mobile Madness Motor City: Highlights and Takeaways

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American International Auto Show, but there’s a sea change under way in the auto industry as companies scramble to offer consumers the technological features they demand. One by one, the big auto manufacturers are embracing outside innovation and open technology platforms, some going so far as to rebrand themselves software companies on wheels. Our connected cars panel discussion featured GM’s Greg Ross, Roximity‘s Daniel Newman, and Livio‘s Joey Grover, with Intel’s Joel Hoffman moderating. Hoffman said the change began when car companies started attending and demonstrating new products in earnest at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Ross says all the auto manufacturers are interested in adding value to their products through apps and other software enhancements, but he told another story that illustrated the need for car companies to adapt. A group of Chevy Volt owners got together independently and created a website to share information and compare rates of efficiency, sort of a Volt geeks forum. Now, Ross said, 20 percent of all Volt owners engage with the site, which has also spawned an app. “That’s not something we anticipated when we designed the car,” he added.

But beware—too much information and connectivity isn’t good either. Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s head of global trends, said in her presentation that yes, we’re connected like never before, but because of that we never truly leave the office, which is leading to something called time poverty. We’re addicted to information and we’re overloaded with it, and the new coolest kid on the block isn’t the one with the most expensive toys, but the one who is the best, most trusted curator of all that information coming at us. So take time to unplug, she advised. Connect in real life, too. There’s no point in having access to so much information if it’s taking you away from your friends and family.

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Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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