Last week I listened to a podcast from Lucid Motors SVP Mike Bell (ex-Apple, ex-Rivian) about what makes the Lucid Air and the upcoming Lucid SUV codenamed Gravity, due out in 2024, so very different from any other car on the planet. the road, including Tesla.
Since Tesla was also 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 seems to be in line. It’s a shift from the traditional priorities of the old automakers to a model that’s more in line with a tech company. Auto 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 had updated briefings from Nvidia and Qualcomm on how they’re dealing with autonomous driving in what could be a complementary approach to next-generation EVs.
Let’s talk about the future of electric cars, and we’ll close with my product of the week: an update on the Bartesian robot bartender by, no kidding, Black+Decker.
Nvidia and Qualcomm Vehicle Technology
Nvidia’s Drive platform is widely used in Lucid vehicles. It is a comprehensive group of offerings that spans the technology stack of autonomous cars, from conception and simulation to training, to in-car inference. Much of the power, however, is in Nvidia’s Omniverse simulation capability that is widely used in the automotive industry.
Qualcomm is more focused on cutting costs on the automotive side of this equation with compelling in-car technology that is both cheaper and better on paper than the other alternatives.
Since car companies are laser-focused on margins, you can see a world emerging where Nvidia may own much of the backend and control structure for autonomous cars, and where Qualcomm could be present in most of the cars with the accompanying self-driving capabilities. Qualcomm has shown that its ability to keep smartphone costs down can translate into in-car solutions that can do much the same.
An increasingly possible future is where Nvidia provides much of the autonomous car backend, while Qualcomm provides the multi-layered computer vision technology in the vehicle.
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’s really not like any other car on the road. Performance specs and price are both surprising.
In terms of performance, they offer a 2.5 second acceleration time from 0 to 60, up to 1111 horsepower, up to 168 mph and up to 520 miles of range in what is currently class-leading performance. But that feat will cost you nearly $200K.
On the other hand, you could say that you are basically getting four cars for the price of one: a sports car, a family car, an all-terrain vehicle and a trailer (it has a huge amount of luggage space), all in one vehicle.
Lucid also shows a change in thinking about the interaction between the car and the driver. Until now, the driver has had to learn to operate the car. Every car is different enough that most drivers will never learn how to use all the features. For example, I have never been able to successfully use the self-parking function of my car.
The Lucid model learns how to work with you, learns your preferences, and this data can be transferred from car to car, so you’ll never again be faced with the problem of not being able to properly use a feature you’ve purchased.
Upgrades after purchase
Lucid goes above and beyond to present a solution that is not only software-defined, but may be more easily updated and upgraded over time, keeping the cars up and running for longer than they otherwise would. .
I’ve become quite frustrated with the more traditional car companies because you can almost bet that right after you buy a new car they will do an upgrade that can’t be retrofitted, and you would have gotten if you had known it was was coming.
I bought a Mercedes a few years ago. Sometime between the time I ordered the car and the delivery, they put one of the features I ordered in another package that wasn’t available when I ordered my car and because I didn’t select that bundle (again, it wasn’t once available at the time I ordered) they removed the feature from the car.
The only way I could get it back was to pay three times what it cost before that happened. This huge cost increase was because it was much more expensive to add that feature once the car was built.
Lucid and Tesla have both shown that they can upgrade their cars much better after purchase. As the industry considers the concept of cars-as-a-service, this ability to change a car’s configuration after it leaves the factory opens the door to not only a stronger used car opportunity for dealers, but a much more longer, happier relationship with the cars we end up buying.
Instead of replacing a perfectly good car after three years because it was outdated, imagine updating the car so that it is nearly identical to a new one.
Lucid’s technology-centric, software-centric approach also means that many of these upgrades can be delivered as part of a service, as can some of the more interesting improvements to Tesla cars 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 aims to surpass Tesla in this regard.
Part of the reason Lucid may be able to outperform Tesla is its use of Nvidia Drive, which remains a unique way for smaller auto companies to match or exceed the capabilities of the larger companies by leveraging Nvidia’s vast resources. It really is a game changer.
As we move into the mid-decade, our automotive experiences will change a lot, not only becoming more adaptable to the buyer, but also automatically adapting to that buyer after sales to provide a level of personalized experience not seen before. in the tech market, let alone the automotive market.
Once this is done, the technology market may need to take advantage of some of the automotive industry’s advancements to compete more effectively in their segment, as this concept of a product that adapts to the user’s unique needs is a competitive revolution.
Given the choice, it’s hard to see how a customer would ever choose the old way of forced learning and the lack of flexibility in the increasingly smarter personal technology, devices and vehicles they buy.
Companies like Lucid, Rivian, Tesla, Nvidia and Qualcomm are kicking and screaming the car market towards a future that is much more responsive to the needs of their buyers. That’s good news for our future purchases, though probably not until the second half of the decade.
The ‘bev’ of Black+Decker
We were one of the first owners of the Bartesian robot bartender, and we have enjoyed the product for several years since it came out.
However, there were annoyances related to how the alcohol was retained in the device and the pain of filling with water that often spilled. We left one of the alcohol bottles in place without cleaning them for too long and it stuck. So we started looking for a replacement only to find that Black+Decker made a newer version of the Bartesian called bev (small b) and it’s great!
Let’s start with the fact that at the old Bartesian we had to switch the bottles of rum and gin when making drinks because there were only four kinds of liquor in it. The new version has five different bottles and uses the bottles that the alcohol comes in, so you don’t have to clean the bottles anymore, just throw them out when they’re empty. In addition, it offers a sixth bottle for water so that you can easily fill it under the tap (don’t try to fill it from the fridge or you will get water all over the floor).
The ‘bev’ on-demand cocktail maker (Image Credit: Bartesian)
The unit has lights under the bottles that light up when the drinks are made or can cycle while unused, making for quite an impressive presentation in your kitchen or bar. While the old Bartesian had a display that allowed you to make a potion, the bev has five buttons. The first four are for the size of the drink and the last starts the process of making the drink, which is much faster and more fun to watch.
The bev uses the same pods as the old Bartesian, but doesn’t have a water cooler, so you’ll need to supply the ice. But the result looks better, much less messy (the old Bartesian leaked every now and then when filling), and so far it has worked flawlessly.
On a hot day, and we get a lot of those, a cold rum punch is a nice way to end the day; and sitting outside on the weekend with a chilled cocktail makes it all worth it.
Black+Decker’s new bev, priced around $300, is my product of the week. Cheers!
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.