News Roundup: GM Opens Network to Infotainment App Developers, Lyft Announces Plans for Its Own Self-Driving Car Division in Palo Alto, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A look at major headlines to come out of the driverless and connected car industries over the past week:

GM opens network, allows app developers to test infotainment apps in real vehicle environment

General Motors (GM) has announced a move to make it easier for app developers to test their infotainment apps in a real test vehicle environment. GM announced that it is offering up its next-generation infotainment software development kit–NGI SDK–to the general development community. This will give developers access to GM’s Dev Client, and allow them to test their creations in a real-life test vehicle early in the process, which GM claims is the first time an automaker has done so. Mashable explains, once a developer is ready to make something, “they can download the new SDK, which has been available since January, to build out their app and begin emulating the in-car environment to kick things off.” GM says the open developers network is ready and open for new applicants. Read more from Mashable.


Lyft forms autonomous vehicle division in Palo Alto, California

Ride-hailing app Lyft announced it is setting up its own division dedicated to self-driving cars in Palo Alto, California. Reports indicate Lyft will focus on developing its own software network, including a navigation system, with plans to open up the network to the general public, allowing other tech companies and automakers to use the network, and potentially even share data. Industry analysts believe Lyft will likely monetize the program by taking a cut of ride-sharing fees collected by companies using their network. A Lyft spokesperson said a big motivation for the move is to help bring the environmental and safety benefits of autonomous vehicles to the world sooner. Read more from SFGate.


Microsoft joins Baidu’s driverless-car alliance, ‘Project Apollo’

Chinese tech giant Baidu and Microsoft have announced that they will be working together on driverless cars. Microsoft has reportedly joined Baidu’s Project Apollo. “Our goal with Apollo is to provide an open and powerful platform to the automotive industry to further the goal of autonomous vehicles,” said the president of Baidu, Zhang Yaqin, in news reports. Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure, will reportedly be “instrumental” in the Apollo initiative. As much as 50 other famous firms and automakers, including Ford, Daimler, 13 car manufacturers from China, and many ride-sharing operators, component providers and suppliers have also announced plans to join Project Apollo. Read more from Investor NewsWire.

Image by Lyft

Renesas Electronics Leads D20 Rebound

Led by Renesas Electronics (TYO:6723), TomTom (TOM2), and General Motors (GM), the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) bounced back last week.

A three-to-one ratio of gainers to losers over the 20 D20 stocks helped bring an end to its three-week slide. The D20 gained 0.95 points, rising 0.5 percent to close at 182.81.

Although finally back in the black this week, the D20 lost ground against the Dow and S&P 500. The Dow jumped 0.9 percent to push past the 21,000 mark, closing at 21005.71, while the S&P 500 rose 0.7 percent, ending the week up 15.78 points at 2383.12.

Completing its purchase of Intersil last week, Renesas’s stock price reacted by jumping 9.2 percent and closing at ¥1024 a share on the Tokyo exchange. That made Renesas the week’s D20 leading price-percentage gainer.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.



Starsky Robotics, a privately held start-up whose mission is to “make trucks autonomous on the highway and remote-controlled by drivers for the first and last mile,” is focused solely on the trucking business. One of the differences, compared to competitor Otto, is that not only are they focused on autonomous driving on the highway, Starsky is developing remote-controlled technology that would allow drivers to move trucks around remotely.  This would speed up jockeying of trailers at freight yards in distribution centers.

News Roundup: MIT Rolls Out a Driverless Scooter, Mich. Gets a New Automated Vehicle Test Site, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A look at some of the most interesting headlines to come out of the driverless, connected-car world this week.

MIT rolls out a driverless scooter

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a self-driving mobility scooter, and the systems and algorithms that power it could have positive implications for other types of driverless vehicles as well. So far, it is said the scooter works well both outdoors and indoors. The new scooter made its public debut in April when more than 100 people were invited to take it for a spin as part of a test of the software. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the safest, test-riders ranked the scooter’s safety on average between 3.5 to 4.6. Read more about MIT’s driverless scooter from


Willow Run site in MI has been purchased for a new driverless vehicle test site

The news has been expected for nearly a year, and news outlets are reporting this week that it has finally happened–The former World War II bomber factory known as Willow Run in Michigan’s Ypsilanti township has been purchased by the new American Center For Mobility (ACM) for $1.2 million. Plans are to transform the 335-acre site into a state-of-the-art driverless vehicle test site. Conceptual plan designs have already been finalized, and construction could begin before the end of the year, according to Michigan state officials. The ACM anticipates the site opening for business in December, 2017. Read more from the Detroit News.


Texas A&M engineering students transform Ford F-150 into self-driving truck

Using only the on-board GPS system that came with the truck, a group of Texas A&M students have transformed an old 2005 F-150 Ford truck into a self-driving one. As the head chair of the engineering department, Professor Reza Langari explains, they devised a way to communicate a set path to the on-board GPS system and use that to help the truck navigate itself. With more than $100,000 invested in the vehicle, engineers will soon equip the truck with cameras and other devices which will allow the truck to drive even more fully on its own, Langari said. Read more about Texas A&M’s self-driving truck from NBC 5.

Image: MIT’s driverless scooter prototype, courtesy of MIT.


Latest GM Recall Leads the D20 Down

Investor concerns that the U.S. federal reserve may raise interest rates forced a major stock sell-off last week,  knocking 2.2 percent off the Dow and dropping the S&P 500 by 2.4 percent last week.

The Driverless Transportation Stock Index (D20) fared slightly better, sliding 1.4 percent.  Fifteen losers and only five gainers locked in the D20’s loss, down 2.3 points at 158.06.

General Motors (GM) led the way by losing 5.2 percent per share after it announced a safety recall affecting 4.3 million vehicles.  The recall will correct software that in some instances prevents the proper deployment of safety devices such as airbags or seat belts.  GM’s stock closed at $30.48, down $1.68.

Volvo AB (VOLV-B) was one of the few bright spots for the D20.  Rumors that a Chinese firm is interested in acquiring its Bus and Construction Equipment units drove Volvo AB’s stock up. Volvo AB’s stock, which is traded on the Stockholm Exchange, closed at SEK 96.65, up SEK 3.05 or 3.3 percent.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.



SpotHero, the on-demand parking application which raised $2.5 million in 2012 and $20 million in Series B funding in 2015, is turning its attention to autonomous vehicles. Its current system,, caters to reserving paid parking spots for manually driven cars.  SpotHero’s team is beginning to plan for the day where autonomous vehicles will need to have available spots to drive to and park while they wait for their next assignment.

Volvo Car Group, owned by Chinese Automotive manufacturer Geely, and Autoliv, vehicle safety system manufacturer, have formed a joint venture to create autonomous driving systems.  The new company will have start out with around 200 employees and will be based in Gothenburg, Sweden.  They will focus their attention on creating advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous drive (AD) systems for Volvo as well as other vehicle manufacturers.


Will Bolt EV Give a Jolt to GM Earnings Call?

Burney Simpson

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV may include autonomous technology and Lyft drivers will get the first models off the production line, according to a flurry of news reports.

GM executives are considering addressing these topics during the auto OEMs second-quarter conference call on Thursday even though the Bolt EV won’t be officially released until late this year.

First, the electric-powered Bolt will include technology from Cruise Automation, the developer of self-driving systems that GM bought early this year, reports Motley Fool.

The Verge reported in May that Bolts outfitted with autonomous tech sensors were being live tested on San Francisco streets and Cruise co-founder Kyle Vogt was behind the wheel of one of them.

Second, the 2017 Bolt EV may be offered initially to Lyft drivers in California and Colorado through the ridesharing firm’s Express Drive program, Fortune disclosed. GM invested $500 million in Lyft in January.

Express Drive offers special rental prices on select GM vehicles to Lyft drivers who complete a certain number of rides per week. The Express Drive program has been over-subscribed since it was launched in Chicago and expanded to three more cities. Los Angeles and San Francisco may offer the program this fall.

Full production of the 2017 Bolt EV could begin in October according to Green Car Reports. Plans call for a base price of $37,500 and a production level of about 25,000 vehicles.


GM President Dan Ammann said at a Fortune conference this month that both rideshare and autonomous vehicles are interesting “and it gets really interesting if you put the two together.”

GM’s call to analysts to discuss second quarter results is scheduled to begin this Thursday at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

Along with revenues and earnings numbers, GM will tell analysts the price it paid for Cruise, a figure it has kept under wraps. Many press accounts estimated San Francisco-based Cruise cost GM $1 billion.

Proponents believe the 2017 Bolt’s 200-mile range will alleviate consumer concerns about running out of power. It is set to compete with two other electrics in the mid-$30,000 range – the Tesla Model 3 and the remade Nissan Leaf.

The Bolt may get the glory if it comes out first. The Model 3 has garnered about 400,000 reservations even though it won’t be put into production until the fall of 2017. The Leaf is scheduled for the 2018 model year.

Driverless Cars a Decade Away: MotorWeek’s Davis

Consumer acceptance of autonomous autos will be slow and widespread use may be a decade away, according to experts at a conference held this week by the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C.

John Davis, executive producer, creator and host of the long-running MotorWeek TV show, told the conference that testing of the technology could go on for quite a while.

Autonomous systems “may be a decade away, maybe longer,” said Davis. “The public is all charged up about something that may be a ways off. We need to temper that enthusiasm.”

Davis cautioned regulators from forcing autonomous safety equipment on car buyers. For instance, consumers did not warm to airbags for years, said Davis. 

The recent fatal crash involving a Tesla vehicle using its Autopilot automated-driving system is raising more concerns, said Davis.

Davis spoke and led a panel at the 2016 Sustainable Transportation Summit, held by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The summit primarily focused on electric vehicles and efforts to increase their use but autonomous technology interested many in the crowd.

GM’s Mary Beth Stanek wouldn’t commit on the consumer acceptance of electric vehicles outfitted with autonomous systems. She noted consumers generally look for proven technology when buying a car.

“Consumers don’t want too big a change from what they are doing today. If they like an internal combustion engine, they will stay with that,” said Stanek, director of vehicle technologies and government relations.

However, Stanek predicted that people will turn to autonomous and electric vehicles as mapping systems improve and communications technology like DSRC and 5G become widespread.


For that matter, “self-driving vehicles could lead to fuel conservation, they could force us to become smoother drivers (with) less stop and start,” said Davis. “It will take a while for the concept of not driving like a maniac to take hold,  (but it) will bring more fuel economy and people will like that.”

The view of Davis runs counter to that of auto OEMs Toyota and BMW with each pledging to have an automated or autonomous vehicle on the road by 2020 or 2021.

That coming-soon theme was echoed at the conference by Ford’s Ken Washington. Ford is testing autonomous vehicles in Michigan and Arizona, and soon in California, said Washington, vice president of research and advanced engineering.

Ford is developing SAE Level 4 High Automation vehicles, where the vehicle navigates itself — and its passengers — safely to their destination.

“In the next four years this is a reality that is very near,” said Washington.

One autonomous technology proponent at the conference was Chunka Mui, a business strategy consultant and author of “Driverless Cars: Trillions are Up for Grabs.”

Mui took a bottom-line approach, pointing to a study by Barclays that found that a driverless electric vehicle providing a car-share service could reduce operating cost-per-mile by as much as 80 percent compared with a standard vehicle.

And some locales offer rich ground for autonomous vehicles, Mui said. For example, the congested island-nation of Singapore is now testing driverless cabs developed by MIT-offshoot nuTonomy.

The Singapore government is supporting the concept, the population there is aging, the test is in a dense, high-population area, the country seeks to be a ‘knowledge capital of the world’ and nuTonomy has been preparing for the test for years, said Mui.


Along those same lines, new technology investor Mark Platshon encourages the US to think creatively as it promotes electric and autonomous vehicles.

“I’d like to see Hawaii as a test bed. An all renewable (energy), all electric island,” said Platshon, managing director of The Autonomous World Fund. “Make autonomous vehicles a top priority.”

Platshon was on a panel led by Mui that also featured executives from Federal Express and Local Motors.

olli-tool-tips2Federal Express is looking to reduce costs for its ground-vehicles, according to Russell Musgrove, managing director of global vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles show promise because FedEx research has found that the driver accounts for 15 percent of fuel use, said Musgrove.

The package delivery firm would like government permission to operate longer trucks so it could take more trucks off the road, and it is trying to find a manufacturer that can deliver a mini-fleet of electric trucks.

“We now have 110,000 vehicles worldwide. We need electric vehicles. We tried to get that first 100. We can’t find a manufacturer that will meet our specs. People think we can just go to an EV store,” said Musgrove. “This is a niche space, manufacturers can’t make enough money making this.“

Mui suggested that maybe Local Motors could help. The firm custom creates vehicles using 3D printers and other equipment. It recently launched Olli, a driverless shuttle that carries about a dozen passengers.

Local is the opposite of Detroit’s assembly line style of mass production, said Justin Fishkin, chief strategy officer.

“We make vehicles locally. It takes about eight weeks to build and put on the road,” said Fishkin. “Our cars have about 500 pieces while (auto OEMs) use about 50,000 and about 500 suppliers are involved.”

Musgrove and Fishkin agreed to talk after the conference.

Photo: Chevy’s electric Bolt.


Ridesharing Galore: Here Come the Auto OEMs

Dominique Bonte

There’s been an avalanche of ridesharing announcements from auto OEMs in the last seven months:

  • BMW & Scoop– BMW iVentures venture capital arm announced an investment of an undisclosed amount in California-based carpooling service Scoop Technologies.
  • Volkswagen & Gett– VW is investing $300 million in Israel-based, low-cost ridesharing player Gett, which is active in more than 60 cities worldwide, including London, Moscow, and New York.
  • Toyota & Uber– Mainly a strategic partnership with a MoU to explore cooperation, but Toyota also announced an undisclosed investment from Toyota Financial Services Corporation and Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership.
  • Apple & Didi Chuxing– Auto OEM in the making? Apple splashing out $1 billion on Uber rival Didi Chuxing (which itself took a stake in Lyft earlier this year).
  • GM & Lyft– GM invested $500 million in Lyft, then said it would launch the autonomous Chevy Bolt taxi based on technology from GM-owned Cruise Automation.
  • nuTonomy & Ford – Driverless car-sharing company nuTonomy raising $16 million through Ford Chairman Bill Ford.

This starts looking like a gold rush, with major auto OEM brands hurrying to partner with the leading car-sharing initiatives, taking the competition to another level by helping them increase their respective ridesharing market shares.

Clearly, the major automotive brands are afraid to miss the boat on ridesharing. Any remaining independent ridesharing outfit must be looking at this trend, greedily waiting for other car brands to move in.

In the margins of this, the ridesharing paradigm keeps evolving at full speed, either adding functionality like Lyft’s Scheduled Rides or increasing safety, with Uber China testing Face++ facial recognition technology to check driver identification.

At the same time, controversy around the on-demand economy is not expected to calm down any time soon. Local initiatives like non-profit RideAustin trying to fill in the ridesharing void left by Uber and Lyft is testimony to the ongoing legal turmoil.


Remarkably, auto OEMs seem to be taking a 180-degree turn: from traditional first-generation car sharing, in which many OEMs have invested by setting up their own operations or JVs in the past years (Daimler car2go, BMW DriveNow, Ford partnering with Zipcar), toward taking stakes in ridesharing ventures.

It seems they finally realize “car sharing 1.0” is not scalable, and instead, must move to “car sharing 2.0,” a.k.a. ridesharing. And they are already looking toward the “car sharing 3.0” era of driverless taxis.

Visit ABI Research for more from Dominique Bonte.

While auto OEMs could still own and control first-generation car sharing, in ridesharing they are relegated to a role of minority investors, which still allows them to have a front row seat to observe the dynamics of the unfolding car-sharing economy.

How serious are auto OEMs about embracing the car-sharing paradigm, killing their own century-old, ownership-based business model? Don’t they still want to sell (more) vehicles?

Lyft_PressKit_04Or, are they starting to understand the ultimate transformative paradigm shift their industry will go through: from business-to-consumer to business-to-business commercial models?

In the future, vehicles will no longer be sold directly to consumers but to fleets of shared, electric, driverless cars. It’s hard to think of a more transformative transition.

It becomes increasingly clear that the high-tech vehicles of the future will only thrive in an automotive industry dominated by on-demand business models.


A never-ending series of consumer surveys keeps pointing out that consumers are not really interested in electric or autonomous vehicles.

What they are interested in is simple: convenient, safe, and affordable transportation. In other words, they want “mobility as a service.” Consumers will embrace electrification and autonomy, not as owners, but as users of seamless ride-hailing services.

It is pointless to position automotive technology with consumers; the focus should be on the service. And it seems this message is finally hitting home in the boardrooms of auto OEMs.

Whether future auto OEMs will run their own car-sharing fleets or sell their vehicles to Uber-like organizations doesn’t really matter.

They will have to exit the consumer car-selling business in both cases, either turning into service organizations or supplying vehicles to third-party mobility providers.

The message for the automotive industry is becoming clear: aim for “smart mobility as a service” and all the (technology) pieces of the puzzle will fall into place. It is possible we have just witnessed the very first evidence of the start of this new era, with Toyota joining forces with Uber.

For more information, visit ABI Research.

Europe’s AutoSens a Top Conference on the Continent

Europe’s AutoSens conference is shaping up as an important event on the Continent for the autonomous and connected vehicle industry.

The conference takes a comprehensive approach to driverless technology with speakers, industry meetings, opportunities for product pitches, and vehicle and technology exhibitions.

The AutoSens conference will be held at AutoWorld in Brussels on September 20-22. Driverless Transportation is a media sponsor of the event.

The speaker and panelist list includes leaders from GM, Toyota, BMW, Valeo, Continental, Intel, Jaguar Land Rover, Faraday Future, Texas Instruments, IEEE, Panasonic Automotive, Palo Alto Research Center, Cognizant and many others.

AutoSens says it is built by engineers, for engineers. The idea being that the conference on the continent gives those active in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) the opportunity to network and learn from others in the same space.

The attendees will be those working in imaging, machine vision, deep learning, engineering, sensor fusion, signal processing, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, user experience, sensors (radar, LIDAR, IR and visible light), safety and ADAS, semiconductors, mapping, vehicle to vehicle communications, HMI and more.

By bringing these experts together the conference organizers believe they will help to develop sensor technology, processing hardware and algorithms, and system architecture to meet the future demands of automotive OEMs.

Register for the AutoSens Conference through this Driverless Transportation listing and receive a 15 percent discount on registration.

The conference features a first in-person meeting of the IEEE Standards Association workgroup on Automotive System Image Quality. The meeting, chaired by Robert Stead, is designed to develop a standardized approach to the auto imaging technologies.

“The standard will specifies methods and metrics for measuring and testing automotive image quality to ensure consistency and create cross-industry reference points,” according to a press release.

The Accelerator program gives innovators the opportunity to pitch their product. Plans call for 15 start-ups to speak for less than three minutes to an audience of senior engineers, technologists and other leaders from auto OEMs, and Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers in the ADAS and autonomous sector.

Product pitches are limited to three categories –

Sensors – for interior and exterior environmental perception;

Computer vision/Sensor fusion – algorithms and software for environmental understanding;

Mapping/Geospatial systems – sensors, systems or software.

Visit the Driverless Transportation Events listing on the AutoSens Conference and receive a 15% discount on registration.

Connected, Automated Vehicles Can Reduce Fuel Use: NREL

Burney Simpson

Fuel savings and lower greenhouse gas emissions are two potential benefits of the shift to connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology, according to tests conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The laboratory, a subset of the U.S. Department of Energy, is ramping up its research on CAV and Transportation as a System (TAAS) technology, said Jeffrey Gonder, a senior engineer and researcher.

In a test conducted with GM, NREL found that connected vehicles traveling ‘Green Routes’ could garner energy savings of 5 percent. The downside was that the green routing approach also meant longer travel times.

The test was conducted with the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt vehicle powered with a battery pack, drive unit, and gas-powered engine.

The Volt uses GM’s OnStar system that gives it real-time information on driving routes, traffic and road topology, according to Connectivity-Enhanced Route Selection and Adaptive Control for the Chevrolet Volt.

The 5 percent energy savings is modest but it can be achieved with software adjustments and no change in the engine, said Gonder.

A second study on truck platooning used the Peloton Technology system.

It found that fuel savings decreased as the following truck drove closer to the lead truck. Following too close cut air flow to the second truck, causing its cooling fan to work harder and the engine to burn more fuel.

The NREL study found that a two-truck platooning system achieved its optimum fuel savings with a following distance of 50 feet at a speed of 65 MPH.

The study was highlighted in Assessing the Energy Impact of Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Technologies.

Gonder said NREL plans to show additional test results with presentation posters at the Automated Vehicles Symposium running July 19-21 in San Francisco.

Studies of CAVs impact on energy and greenhouse gas emissions are being conducted by NREL, the Argonne National Laboratory, the Idaho National Laboratory, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The studies are based on five focus area ‘pillars’ – mobility decision science, connectivity and automation, multi-modal, urban science, and vehicles and infrastructure.

Photo by NREL, 2012.

Mobility As A Service in the US – Who’s the Bank?

Burney Simpson

The time seems right for Mobility as a Service (MAAS). Travelers are looking to cut costs, congestion, and the bother of owning a vehicle. And autonomous technology and driverless vehicles could bring costs down so MAAS would be affordable for the masses.

A successful MAAS program will need a mix of transportation providers like public transit, privately-held firms like Uber and Lyft, shuttle and bus services, bike share programs, traditional taxi firms, car-share outfits like car2go, and others depending on the metro area.

But any MAAS project will also need three behind-the-scenes providers to grease the wheels.

Those are an app creator, a data analyzer, and a bank, said Tim Papandreou, director, Office of Innovation, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

“You need an entity that can create and maintain the app, (and an entity) to gather and analyze the data so transportation options are continually updated and improved, to meet customer needs and offer incentives,” said Papandreou. “Third, (there’s the entity) that will act as a payment facilitator. It will send money to the transportation provider.”

A single payments firm is essential, said transportation consultant Carol Schweiger.

“You pay one entity for all these services or else the concept won’t work. You can’t have users paying multiple providers,” said Schweiger, president of Schweiger Consulting.

Schweiger refers to a MAAS scheme where the traveler pays a monthly subscription fee to a service, covering her daily commute and a certain number of weekend and evening trips. That service is responsible for divvying up the funds to the transport providers.


MAAS is evolving but generally refers to a subscription-based, phone-app accessible mix of transportation options providing door-to-door service.

moovel-transit2Schedules and fees of the transportation providers will have to be online, integrated and continuously updated. That goes for weather and road condition information. The service is operated real-time, so a subscriber can preplan a journey, or find, pay for, and jump on the best option on the fly.

For now, there appear to be firms ready to step into the first two roles that Papandreou describes.

One ride search provider is the moovel app launched by Daimler this spring in Portland, Ore. It offers smartphone searching and the ability to make payments to multiple providers. But moovel is pay-as-you-go, there’s no monthly subscription service, says a spokesperson.

Second, data gathering and analysis is becoming core to intelligent transportation systems (ITS) with multinational giants like Siemens, Microsoft, IBM and others exploring the sector.

What’s missing is three, the bank.

Ford and GM are logical providers of this service though neither has expressed interest publicly in becoming a MAAS bank.


Papandreou says the auto OEMs are still getting their heads around the idea of integrated mobility, so throwing in the concept of banking may be a bridge too far.

But it isn’t far-fetched.

Each has a financial arm with deep pockets.

The Ford Motor Credit Corp. provides loans through its Lincoln Automotive Service Corp. in the U.S., Canada and China. Net income for Ford Motor Credit tallied $1.4 billion in 2015, with managed receivables of $127 billion. Put simply, receivables measure the amount customers owe on loans.

GM subsidiary General Motors Financial reported net income of $646 million and total assets of $66 billion last year.

And there’s the possibility that fewer consumers will be buying cars if MAAS-style systems take hold.

“GM has to find new ways to make money if they don’t sell as many cars,” said Schweiger.

One way to do that could be to finance the system and earn income from payment processing.

“There are billions of transactions every day, this is a tremendous opportunity,” said Papandreou.

For now, the two big American auto OEMs don’t appear to be interested. GM is focused on expanding Lyft, in part with driverless vehicles it develops with Cruise Automation.

Ford’s new FordPass seeks to connect with customers through their smartphones. Millennials can do cool stuff like reserve a parking space and start their car.

But the payment angle is a work in progress. A customer earns rewards by purchasing Ford services, and the rewards can be redeemed at a Boomer brand like McDonald’s. A Ford spokesperson says FordPass is evolving, and changes will be coming.

Mobility As A Service is evolving too, and there will be different approaches in different cities. MAAS banking is a move away from an auto OEM’s core skill set but financing such a system could be quite rewarding.

Story photo – Piggy by Pictures of Money, 2014.


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