Technology, Innovation Focus Of North American International Auto Show

Published: Sunday, January 8, 2017 - 5:05am
Updated: Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - 10:01am

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is the largest auto event in the country, and it’s a preview of what’s to come in the auto industry. This is the first year technology and innovation are the focus.  But while ride-sharing and smart-technology may be the future, it seems a long way away for the Valley.

“You know everybody I think — thinks it’s just gonna be George Jetson and a bunch of pods moving around, but what we are hearing from automakers is they are really going to take this opportunity to differentiate themselves in the marketplace by that interior experience,” said Max Muncey, public-relations manager for the show.

Muncey said autonomous and ridesharing are not really his thing.

“I love my car. I’m a passionate car guy, and you know what I think that letting go is a lot further down the road,” he said.

Jack Nerad is the executive editorial director for Kelley Blue Book. He said the common conversation about the auto industry right now is that autonomous, self-driving cars are the future of transportation along with shared ride providers like Uber and Lyft.

He doesn’t see it that way.

“Probably that is a very far-off future for most urban suburban and rural areas of the United States going forward for decades. Not just for years, but for decades,” Nerad said.

He said at first, an Uber may sound appealing, but then you realize how you use your car.

“You typically keep stuff in your car. Let’s say you’re going to the grocery and the dry cleaner. It’s hard to think you’d use a variety of Lyfts or Ubers to do that sort of thing,” Nerad said.

Besides activities that require a car, city infrastructure across the West supports personal cars for a long time in the future, he said.

“Phoenix, Los Angeles, key among them, that grew largely after the invention of the automobile.  And grew in response to how the automobile enables transportation, enables longer distances,” Nerad said.

Muncey said 2020 is the earliest he heard for a fully autonomous vehicle, and going mainstream, well, he said 2040-50 are the predictions there.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to correct the acronym NAIAS.

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