Back to the Future II: Will you soon be matching your car to your phone?


In the first week of January 2017, I attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. It is a very well-known and established brand within the tradeshow business and has taken place in the USA annually for the past 50 years. One might even say that CES is one of the largest shows on the planet.

The show is technology-driven and filled with consumer gadgets designed to make life easier. In my opinion, the most interesting up-and-coming area on the show floor was the automotive section and in particular, ‘automated driving’.

At last year’s CES show (in 2016), I was surprised by the pace of developments in automation; people spoke about fully autonomous cars on the road by 2025. But going Back to the Future on this year’s show, I found that I wasn’t surprised anymore. Instead, I was in shock! Why? Because it’s not 2025 anymore. We’re now talking about having fully autonomous cars on the road by 2020.

In 2020, Audi and NVIDIA will launch their fully automated car and one year later, Ford will do the same. It’s a rat race at the speed of light and I can confirm that it will change our industry completely. Right now, it’s all about connected, self-driving and autonomous cars. But what will happen to the traditional relationships between OEMs, suppliers, IT and telecoms? They will disappear like snow in the Las Vegas sun. ‘Be here or be square, or you will end up like Nokia or Kodak’, CES shouted out, and it’s right. Digitization was a revolution; the Internet of Things is the next step.

So what does this mean for our traffic technology industry OEMs, IT, telecoms, big data and suppliers like Delphi or Continental – they all meet each other in the car. We’re getting more and more consumer orientated and as a result, new business models will appear. For instance, I imagine that in the near future, my car will offer me several restaurant or hotel choices as soon as I step into my car. Why? Because it will know my personal profile (that I uploaded) and it’s connected to my cell phone which has access to my agenda. This stuff will happen soon!

“What car fits best with my phone?” you will ask at the desk of a car dealer. It may seem like a silly question now, but it will become the future very quickly.

It’s a privilege to be the exhibition director of Intertraffic. With the huge opportunities that are ahead of us, I’m looking forward to next year in January – time for Back to the Future III!

Oh, and don’t forget to watch this short clip…

Our man in Amsterdam, Richard Butter, is manager of Intertraffic worldwide events

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