Traverse City, Mich. — There's no question that there's a lot of uncertainty about what exactly the car of the future will look like, and even when it will show up.
Perhaps that's why the auto industry can't even seem to agree on what acronym it should use when describing a self-driving, electric shared vehicle.
Should it be CASE? That's what Danny Stillion, a partner and executive design director for design group IDEO used to desribe a Connected Autonomous Shared Electric vehicle during a presentation at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.
Or maybe ACES, which is CAR's preferred term for an Automated, Connected, Electric and Shared vehicle.
“And its also called SAEV: Shared, Autonomous Electric Vehicles, but that's more of a European acronym,” said Jeffrey Stout exectuve director of research, technology and new mobility for North America with Yanfeng Global Automotive Interior Systems.
“We just had that conversation this morning,” added Nathan Bowen, vice president and general manager Americas for Yanfeng. “There's no right term for it. We use ACES. It's easiest to say.”
“The reality is, the technology is new enough, its nascent enough that people haven't decided yet,” Stout said. “People are just throwing stuff out and something's going to catch on and that's going to become the thing. It's just that none of them have become the thing yet.”
Blame the name confusion on the very new path tread by automakers, suppliers and even non-traditional auto players like Waymo, run by Google parent Alphabet Inc.
While the auto industry fully expects electric, shared and autonomous vehicles to play an increasing role in the next five-30 years — with electric and partially-electric vehicles forecast to make up as much as 40 percent of global auto production by 2030 or up to 85 percent by 2050, depending on who's making the prediction — there is still much about those cars that is not yet defined.
For instance, should the “A” refer to cars with driver assist technologies? Or solely hands-off autonomous vehicles, noted Kristin Dzieczek, vice president, industry, labor and economics for Ann Arbor, Mich.-based CAR.
“It's all such an unknown,” said Joe McCabe, president and CEO of AutoForecast Solutions LLC.
McCabe is skeptical that all of the 88 different individual electric vehicle manufacturers who say they will be in the market in 2025 will actually be turning out cars at that time.
“There are just too many hurdles to get through,” he said, including convincing consumers — especially U.S. consumers — to buy them.
But regardless of whether the cars are called CASE or ACES or SAEV, suppliers are preparing to make parts for them.