Out of habit, we often still talk about technology as though it’s an industry in and of itself, despite how outdated and limiting this way of thinking can be. The fact is, technology has found its way into industries that pre-date it, such as the automotive industry, and it now shows immense promise to address some previously accepted challenges associated with driving.
Fossil-fuel guzzling, human-operated machines come with safety risks, expenses ranging from insurance to maintenance and major inefficiencies of traffic, commuting and parking. Technological developments in other industries are now being applied in the auto and transit sector to transform it -- and to make these types of issues seem surmountable, not inevitable.
Tech startups and legacy automakers both have the opportunity to showcase their products at this month’s largest conferences. Last week in Las Vegas, analysts circulated the idea that CES is increasingly becoming a “car show.” And while traditional car shows still place more of an emphasis on ready-for-market vehicles than CES does, the blurring of tech and auto showcases underscores that the auto industry senses it’s time to adapt.
That’s why this year's Detroit Auto Show (a.k.a. the North American International Auto Show, or NAIAS) is not limited to big car companies with flashy press conferences and exhibitions. For the second year in a row, a showcase for startups called AutoMobili-D has floor space at the event. Organized by Detroit-based Techstars Mobility, this year’s AutoMobili-D showcase features 57 companies from 11 countries.
Collectively, the startups at Automobili-D have raised $157 million in venture capital funding and employ 755 people. Nearly 90 percent of them already have relationships with automotive and tech companies, according to NAIAS, but their presence at the event brings the potential for additional partnerships to arise. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re looking to get acquired by one particular automaker, though some may well go that route.
The Automobili-D showcase at the Detroit Auto Show is open through Jan. 21. For a full list of participating startups, see this release from NAIAS.
Click through the slides to learn about some of the startups shaking up the auto industry.