Inside CAR: Pioneering the Future of the Automotive Industry

Inside CAR: Pioneering the Future of the Automotive Industry

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In this special episode of the Automotive Leaders Podcast, host Jan Griffiths teams up with co-host Carl Anthony, Managing Director and co-founder of Automoblog and AutoVision News, for an in-depth conversation with Alan Amici, the President and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

Since assuming the position at CAR almost two years ago, Alan says the organization has been very active and is making exciting developments to strengthen it further.

"CAR's mission is to inform and advise with the goal of making the automotive industry more viable and sustainable," says Alan. He explains that CAR achieves this mission through a three-pronged approach: conducting research, hosting events, and fostering partnerships with private and public entities.

Discussing the need for a cultural shift in the automotive industry to match its technological advancements, Alan points out the strategies employed by General Motors and Ford to attract new talent. He also underscores the industry's need for more diversity, particularly women in leadership roles, to improve decision-making and better cater to market demands.

Alan emphasizes how the traditional model of making car changes after assembly is changing with over-the-air updates; this allows for continuous improvement and risk-taking in development. He also talks about the increasing global competition, especially from China, and emphasizes the need to focus on speed and adaptability to remain competitive.

The episode concludes with a look at the upcoming Management Briefing Seminar (MBS) conference in Traverse City, Michigan. Be sure to listen to the very end when Alan shares the names of their visionary guests and the new content they prepared for CAR's main event!

Themes discussed in this episode:

  • Why we need to adapt culturally to support innovations such as software-defined vehicles and the development of electric vehicles
  • Understanding CAR’s role in the global automotive industry
  • The need to increase the representation of women in engineering and leadership roles to achieve workforce diversity
  • Understanding the importance of speed and adaptability in maintaining competitiveness amidst increasing global competition
  • How automakers are increasingly bringing software development capabilities in-house and the challenges they face in developing these competencies
  • The challenges and the requirements for transitioning from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles
  • What you can anticipate from the upcoming CAR-MBS and why you should attend

Co-host: Carl Anthony

What he does: Carl Anthony is the Managing Editor and Co-Founder of Automoblog and AutoVision News. He also hosts AutoVision News Radio and AutoSens Insights. Carl is a regular contributor on MotorMouth Radio on WHPC 90.3 FM and an active member of the Automotive Women's Alliance Foundation, supporting its mission to empower women in the automotive and mobility industries. He has collaborated with top automotive brands like Escort Radar, Cobra Electronics, Real Truck, and Meguiar's as a respected ambassador. Carl's previous roles include dealership and new vehicle launch trainer for Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, as well as serving as a product specialist on Chevy's National Truck Team.

Featured Guest: Alan Amici

What he does: Alan Amici has over 35 years of experience as an automotive leader. Currently, he serves as the President and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR). Prior to this role, Alan held important leadership positions at Chrysler and TE Connectivity. At TE, he was the Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Transportation Solutions and played a key role in launching the Global Uconnect platform at Chrysler. Alan's career spans various areas, including engineering, manufacturing, and service leadership across global locations. He holds two patents and has received the Walter P. Chrysler Technology Award. Alan has degrees in Electrical Engineering and an MBA from the University of Michigan. Additionally, he is actively involved in academia, serving on advisory boards at Penn State Harrisburg and Wayne State University.

Mentioned in this episode:

Episode Highlights:

[00:03:08] 2 Years in Service: Since taking on the role at CAR nearly two years ago, Alan has stated that the organization has been highly active and is undergoing exciting developments to further strengthen it.

[00:04:27] CAR’s Vision and Mission: "CAR's mission is to inform and advise," says Alan. He also explains CAR's three-pronged approach to achieving its goals.

[00:06:57] The Tech Side of the Industry: Alan explores how technology and organizational culture intersect in the automotive industry. They highlight the importance of adjusting leadership and cultural frameworks to keep pace with the rapid technological advancements.

[00:09:12] Women in Automotive: Alan believes women are underrepresented in automotive leadership positions. He acknowledges that while there has been significant progress on this matter, we still have a long way to go.

[00:11:37] ICE to BEV: Transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs) in less than a decade and overhauling infrastructure for EV charging stations nationwide present immense challenges. The traditional supplier model is evolving as manufacturers seek more control over software development.

[00:16:30] The Need for Speed: Alan discusses the major changes happening in the automotive industry. They believe it's crucial to focus on speed and adaptability to remain competitive in the face of increasing global competition, like China.

[00:23:21] Engage, Embrace, and Embark: Alan talks about the upcoming CAR-MBS event in Traverse City, Michigan. With renowned speakers, fresh content, and the usual enjoyable experience, this year's MBS is not to be missed.

Top Quotes:

[00:04:29] Alan: “CAR's mission is to inform and advise, and we inform and advise with the goal of making the automotive industry more viable and more sustainable.’ 

[00:09:12] Alan: “There are other issues that are really important to the automotive industry: women in engineering or women in leadership positions. The auto industry has made some significant progress in the past 15 or 20 years, but we still have a way to go. There are some examples like Mary Barra, who's leading general motors and has done a terrific job in that particular role, but there's still within the organizations, a lot of people won't find women in middle management or even senior management that they can emulate, or they can look up to, or they can seek a sponsor or a mentor. And so, there's some progress that has been made, but there's some improvements that can continue. And so, CAR definitely has a role in workforce development and DEI in that particular space as well.”

[00:15:28] Alan: “You have these three changes that are occurring at the same time. I need different talent. I need different management styles and leadership styles to be able to make that work. I need different verification schemes. I need the ability to keep vehicles that are out in the field updated and verified. So, it is a very complicated transformation that the auto industry is going through and they're trying to do it very quickly. So, any one of those three things would be a big challenge; doing all three at the same time is a daunting experience. Quite honestly, it's not the leader from 10 or 15 years ago; it's perhaps a new leadership style that can contemplate how should we be doing software differently.”

[00:22:31] Alan: “Along with the European manufacturers and the Japanese manufacturers, you have China. And China has significantly improved the quality of its products. If you go back 30 years ago and look at some of the Chinese imports that you saw at the Detroit auto show, you're expecting they were kind of cheap knockoffs, and that's what it was. If you look at the cars now, the craftsmanship is there. It's interesting, and it's competitive. For the automaker’s writ large, whether you're talking about North America, or you talk about North America and Europe, there's big competition in China, and speed is part of the competition.”

[00:23:22] Alan: “MBS will be August 5th through 8th in Traverse City, Michigan. This is at the Grand Traverse Resort. So, our theme is Engage, Embrace, and Embark. This is a bit of a refresh on MBS for us. So, with lots of support from the automotive OEMs. We have a lineup that's going to knock your socks off in terms of speakers.”

Mentioned in this episode:

This episode is sponsored by Lockton, click here to learn more