By Lisa Lark, Director of Public Relations, Automotive & Mobility

What does the future hold?

That’s the billion-dollar question, isn’t it? There’s no clear vision yet as to what the mobility landscape of the future looks like. The possibilities seem endless, and while opportunities abound, there’s also a great deal of risk.

The Automotive Insights Conference, held January 16, sought to provide perspectives on current conditions as well as future forecasts for the industry. The event – presented by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ‒ Detroit Branch and Detroit Association of Business Economists (DABE) and WardsAuto – featured information on sales and production, economic conditions, and a discussion about some of the changes in the auto and mobility space.

Here are some key takeaways:

“The automobile is technology:” Paul Traub, senior business economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, took a moment to highlight this often assumed but not always appreciated fact: the automobile is a large, rolling high-tech product. OEMs and suppliers alike should continue to put a spotlight on the technological innovations in their products. There are a wealth of stories and narratives to be found in the design, R&D, and manufacturing spaces, and these stories can be developed for traditional, owned, and social media. Glenn Stevens, executive director of MichAuto, doubled down on the theme, calling automobiles “the most high-tech, complicated piece of consumer technology on the market.”

Our view at Lambert: If your team isn’t telling your technology story, it’s time to re-examine where you fit in. There continues to be untapped potential for storytelling, particularly in the supplier space, in a way that positions automotive as innovative.

BEVs are on the move: Global sales of electric vehicles actually slowed a bit in 2019, according to Kevin Riddell, Senior Manager of Powertrain Forecasting for LMC. However, Riddell’s forecast is for the number of battery electric vehicles to triple by 2022. As the cadence of sales steadily rises, there are expected to be 400 different BEVs on market by 2025. What does this mean from a communication perspective? It’s very simple: new products = coverage. New vehicles entering this market means new technology, new partnerships, and new narratives. Following the coverage surrounding BEVs can reveal new angles and outlets for your company’s news.

Strategy, strategy, strategy: The importance of partnerships in today’s fast-moving era of mobility – even for large, multi-billion-dollar companies – was vividly illustrated by Alisyn Malek, chief operating officer and co-founder of May Mobility and Ian Simmons, vice president of research & development at Magna International. It was very obvious how well the two work together, and the strategy that went into developing their product. Both emphasized the importance of not trying to be good at everything and finding partners that complement your company’s areas of expertise. This is a great lesson to keep in mind as you plan your activations and events for the year: be strategic. Don’t try to jump on every trend, pitch every reporter, and attend every show. Examine your company’s priorities and strengths and find the shows, outlets, and narratives that best align. A mindset switch can be helpful here as well- think about a conference or event as a partner and work with them to find something that benefits both parties.