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Ahead of the Curve Auto Supplier Blog

January 08, 2016

Cars are the Stars at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show

Earlier this week we wrote a blog that considered some questions related to the expected Ford-Google announcement from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.  One of the questions was, “Would such a merger make sense for either company?”

Well, apparently, they didn’t think so – at least not at this time – because there was no announcement and hardly even a mention of Google at the Ford press conference. On the other hand, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and there was an awful lot of smoke about Ford and Google before the show. Our advice:  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, there were some interesting announcements coming out of the auto industry at the CES.
  • Starting with Ford, CEO Mark Fields promoted the Fusion hybrid and announced a tripling of the company’s autonomous vehicle fleet (from 10 to 30 vehicles) this year. Ford also announced a contest it will co-sponsor with drone maker DJI to develop a drone to vehicle communication system using the connectivity of Ford’s F-150.
  • General Motors now Chairman and CEO Mary Barra (she was just promoted to the Chairman position this week) introduced the 2017 Bolt EV with its 200 mile range and under $30,000 price tag and called it “a technological showcase for a ride sharing future.” General Motors is placing a heavy bet on that showcase since its introduction came just 24 hours after the company announced a $500 million alliance with Lyft to create a fleet of shared vehicles available for Lyft drivers to rent.
  • VW launched its all-electric people mover, a nifty microbus, planned for 2019/20.
  • Toyota showed off its hydrogen powered concept vehicles, plus a host of new technology that allows self-driving cars to collect data on road conditions to improve their mapping capability.
  • Chinese start-up Faraday Future had an eye-popping show of its own with the introduction of a radical, 1,000 horsepower single seat, all electric, aerodynamic ally designed FFZERO1 with a stated goal of “redefining the world of mobility.”
And there were more. Reports from the show indicated that autos took up 25% more floor space than a year ago as nine OEMs and 115 suppliers rushed to make their own statements. As Automotive News put it, “CES marks a turning point in the power struggle between automakers and technology companies.”  As we said earlier, stay tuned!

Technological change in the auto industry is coming on like a proverbial freight train. And with it new products and new ideas will come with more new IP than this industry has likely ever seen. Our advice to our clients in the industry is to protect your new ideas any and every way you can. They’re as good as gold.

Tracking trends and developments in the auto industry is part of the DNA for Warner’s Intellectual Property and Automotive Practice Group. The more we know and are on top of legal issues, the better we can assist our clients to stay ahead of the curve. Understanding the intricacies of managing and protecting IP is an important way we prove our value to our clients. We relish the challenge and welcome the opportunity.

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