Mile Marker

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles - Redefining Mobility Management (Lukas Neckermann - Neckermann Strategic Advisors)

March 07, 2023 Ridecell Season 1 Episode 8
Connected and Autonomous Vehicles - Redefining Mobility Management (Lukas Neckermann - Neckermann Strategic Advisors)
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Mile Marker
Connected and Autonomous Vehicles - Redefining Mobility Management (Lukas Neckermann - Neckermann Strategic Advisors)
Mar 07, 2023 Season 1 Episode 8
Ridecell

Lukas Neckermann, Managing Director of Neckermann Strategic Advisors, joins the Mile Marker podcast to talk about navigating the ins and outs of vehicle connectivity, how it helps create smarter fleets, what is on the horizon for autonomous vehicles and what the future of vehicle-to-vehicle communications holds for the mobility industry.

https://ridecell.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/company/ridecell/
https://twitter.com/ridecell

Show Notes Transcript

Lukas Neckermann, Managing Director of Neckermann Strategic Advisors, joins the Mile Marker podcast to talk about navigating the ins and outs of vehicle connectivity, how it helps create smarter fleets, what is on the horizon for autonomous vehicles and what the future of vehicle-to-vehicle communications holds for the mobility industry.

https://ridecell.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/company/ridecell/
https://twitter.com/ridecell

Stacey Papp:

Welcome to the Mile Marker Podcast. My name is Stacey Papp, and I will be your guide taking you on a journey into the world of fleet automation and shared mobility, focusing on innovations for businesses with fleets. Joining me today is Lukas Neckermann, managing director of Neckermann Strategic Advisors. Lukas is a highly respected and sought after thought leader on the future of mobility and smart cities. He even coined the phrase, the Mobility Revolution with his first book and the concepts behind it, zero emissions, zero accidents and zero ownership have been widely embraced by a new industry, the mobility industry. Besides writing books and papers, he consults startups, mature organizations and investors, and their transition towards shared autonomous and electric mobility. Today, he joins us to talk about navigating the ins and outs of vehicle connectivity, how it helps create smarter fleets, what is on the horizon for autonomous vehicles and the future of vehicle to vehicle communications. Welcome, Lukas. That is one hack of a bio. We are so happy to have you here.

Lukas Neckermann:

Thank you so much, Stacey. It's a real pleasure to be here today.

Stacey Papp:

Absolutely. So let's start talking about mobility, which is exactly what your intro stated, and you are an expert in. This really is an industry that has come into its own over the past five to 10 years and evolved at a pace that really introduces technology to consumers before they even know they need it. So what trends are you seeing that will impact fleet based businesses in the coming years that have the power to shape their overall operations?

Lukas Neckermann:

So I think Stacey, the first thing that we have to note really is that fleet are leaders. They're not laggards by any stretch. They are really progressive when it comes to the mobility revolution. It's the reason I wrote my second book, Corporate Mobility Breakthrough, it's because I wanted to focus on the power of the fleet and the mobility manager. Look, fleets turn vehicles more quickly than the private consumer does, right?

Stacey Papp:

Sure.

Lukas Neckermann:

They keep them for maybe two, three, four years, and that means that they're always up to the highest standard of safety, of ADAS and all of those things. They're also broadly unemotional. They're going to go for whatever vehicle gives them the best TCO. Right. That means the vehicle that's most efficient, that's going to save them the most money and be accepted by the driver, that's the vehicle that gets bought. And broadly speaking, those are progressively going to be more connected, more electric and over time, also more automated vehicles. So that's the first thing to note. Stacey, the second thing we want to talk about is what's beyond the car. Right. The fleet manager has a whole new set of responsibilities. He or she is looking at car sharing and ride hailing and public transport and bikes and e-bikes and scooters and mobility as a service. All of those things that make them a mobility manager. Right. So that's a whole new, well, frankly, it's a whole new job title.

Stacey Papp:

Sure.

Lukas Neckermann:

And finally, the fleet and mobility manager has all kinds of new pressures coming upon them, right, ESG. ESG is most notable. Somewhere in the company there's going to be a net-zero pledge or a focus on sustainability. And we know that something like 30% in some companies, maybe much more of the emissions will come from transport. So that puts a real responsibility on the fleet and mobility manager to drive emissions down. So with that as a backdrop, moving towards connected autonomous and electric fleets, moving towards a broader mobility management and having a real focus on ESG, the fleet manager, they have to measure, they have to analyze what's going on in the fleet. They have to minimize emissions and increase the road safety and improve the driver behavior. They have to minimize downtime and increase the efficiency of the fleet. All of these different pressures means that the fleet and mobility manager is really at the leading edge of this transformation.

Stacey Papp:

So you said something, you said two things actually that I want to touch base on, and I loved this that vehicles are widely unemotional, and you're exactly right. Because I think we could argue that technology is the same. Right. You get out what you put in and you hope that the insights that you're getting out really do help shape and shift your strategies. But I think what also is, it's really not even up for argument, everybody would agree that a fleet manager's role has widely evolved and it's become more robust over time.

So coupling fleet managers with this unemotional technology and unemotional vehicles, it makes their job a little bit different because they're trying to find all of the solutions to all of the things with one single platform and all of these insights coming out of it in order to make what we would probably say are widely emotional decisions around money and cost and safety and all of the things that fleets look at to say, how do we keep our drivers healthy, safe, and on the road, same with our vehicles, but also stay cost conscious in a strange economic time. So I really like how you kind of weave those parallels together. Both of those analogies really kind of struck that they're so different, yet they're one in the same.

Lukas Neckermann:

Absolutely. Look, the reason I say it's unemotional because numbers don't lie.

Stacey Papp:

Sure.

Lukas Neckermann:

Right. And if I can get my fleet to be more efficient by increasing the connectivity, by decreasing the downtime, by electrifying it, then I'm going to do that.

Stacey Papp:

Sure.

Lukas Neckermann:

But there are so many more tools at my disposal now, right? Long gone are the days where the fleet manager just needed to worry, is the car blue, silver or white? He or she needs to anticipate what are the needs of the business and work with business leaders in order to deliver on that promise with a vehicle or perhaps some other solution consisting of all the different modes of mobility.

Stacey Papp:

Absolutely. And I think we talk technology and it's really commandeering how fleet based businesses are operating these days. And I know this is a topic that's close to your heart, is that vehicle to vehicle communication, it often comes up as a topic baked in technology and innovation. Can you talk us through this concept and how you see it impacting fleet based businesses as well as what you just talked about, the role of the fleet manager now having more complex worries.

Lukas Neckermann:

So first of all, let's talk about the concept. What is V2V or V2G, vehicle to vehicle communication and vehicle to grid communication? There's so many examples in fleet based businesses. I've spoken to literally over 100 fleet managers, and I've had wonderful examples of fleets who have been able to use connectivity to improve the efficiency, not just of the vehicles, but of the business as a whole.

If you have the entire contents of your vehicle in the system, and let's say you have a fleet of vehicles driving around a city and there's a repair person somewhere that needs a part that's not in their own vehicle, but the other vehicle a mile and a half away has that part, there can be knowledge shared between the systems that each of those drivers, each of those operators are on. And whether that's baked into a tablet that's separate from the vehicle or very often actually built into the vehicle where the apps can actually be projected on the inside of the vehicle, that varies. Telematics, most fleets will be using it either native inbuilt telematics or third party telematics. But the real question is not just where is the data coming from, but what do you do with the data?

Stacey Papp:

Exactly.

Lukas Neckermann:

And who gets the data? The insurance company gets the data, the fleet management software gets the data. Perhaps the dealer gets the data, but in any case, the fleet and mobility manager gets the data because they need to take action. But that's just a reaction of your part. If you can take that data and proactively say, oh wow, I know that that vehicle needs to go into service a week from now, I'm going to actually take that vehicle from that driver, give that driver another vehicle and anticipate the need of the vehicle because I know that that vehicle's going to be driving 250 miles this week, and at that point it needs to go into servicing. That's really key. And if on top of that, I can use the data to improve my insurance pricing because I'm monitoring driver behavior, also improving the safety of the vehicles that are out there and the efficiency, then hey, I've got a win-win situation on my hands.

Stacey Papp:

You touched on it beautifully. You have this data now what do you do with it? And I think that is the quintessential question that it's great to have this information, but then question mark, right? Then what do you do with this? Because we talk about fleet automation and telematics, reducing that notification overload, helping to prioritize automatic workflow triggers and all of these things that make life easy. But you still have to use your brain to figure out what do you do with this information and how does it shape your strategy this year, your strategy in the next five to 10 years? And again, your touching on so many relevant points here. When it comes to the incorporation of electric or clean vehicles into the fleets. How does that change when you have this information? So I think having the technology is fantastic, but then really having the foresight to do with it what you need to is just as important, if not more important to say, okay, now we have this. Now what do we do with it?

Lukas Neckermann:

And because a lot of the activities that go on at a fleet manager's desk are frankly repetitive. Some of that can be automated as well.

Stacey Papp:

Sure.

Lukas Neckermann:

If I know that vehicles are going to be deflated a month from now, I can even automate the ordering of new vehicles, or I can automate the in fleeting of new vehicles. I can automate transitioning vehicles from the drivers or between drivers, if they're in maintenance. I can automate a lot of those processes because the system can learn from, well learn from the best. And that's the fleet and mobility manager.

Stacey Papp:

Exactly. So I don't think it's lost on any of us that the driving experience is really going through a rapid overhaul. We once relied on these vehicles, and we still see people do this today to cocoon us from the outside world. I still see people, and I may or may not be guilty of this, stop at a stoplight thinking that my windows are only mirrors, and I am auditioning for American Idol in my driver's seat and realize that the world can see me do this. But we think that they cocoon us, but we're requiring our vehicles nowadays to keep us more connected, kind of ripping away those cocoon walls and exposing us more to the outside environment, even behind the wheel. Can you talk a little bit about vehicle connectivity and what it really means and what it really means for us as a society as well as technology?

Lukas Neckermann:

Yeah. Yeah. I think there's a bit of a dichotomy here. We are very much cocooning ourselves. Vehicles are getting larger, we're getting more automated. In some cases even getting more difficult to see out of. We have heavier, wider, larger vehicles that have increasing degrees of driver assistance, even driving themselves, quote, unquote, caveat that to a certain degree on highways. So there is a certain cocooning going on. At the same time, the vehicle itself is highly connected. Right. So whereas we may be as individuals less connected to the outside world, we're maybe not communicating with other drivers as much as we did before because windows are up and we're singing loudly.

Stacey Papp:

I'll take that as you're not making fun of me, I'll just take it as that.

Lukas Neckermann:

Oh no, not at all. But the vehicle itself is communicating widely. It's communicating, as I said earlier, with insurance company, leasing company, fleet management software, dealers, and in some cases, even with other vehicles. When we get to the point where emergency services broadcast their presence to other vehicles around them. So to make them aware to stop at an intersection when they need to pass through, or when the stop light or any other traffic infrastructure gets communicated to the inside of the vehicle, then you know that we're fully connected in terms of the vehicle and the grid.

Stacey Papp:

So we've all read these articles before and they invoke both wonder and frustration for me, when it's to be truly healthy, we need to unplug. We've all heard this and we're all like, yeah, yeah. But in the world that we live in, its impossible pretty much to do that. We kind of just live in this pace that we have to stay in the know. Being away from technology for longer than a few minutes gives us anxiety. We started to get twitchy thumbs, all of those things.

So you talked about, and I think here in the US, the blue light example, I think most of us have that. So when an emergency vehicle is coming through, all of the lights in an intersection go to red so you can stop. And that's a really nice way of staying plugged in. But how does this notion of always being plugged in, so the antithesis of what we read about to be healthy, how does it benefit us when it comes to having connected vehicles? We touched a little bit about it with the emergency services, but at a broader scale, are there benefits to always being plugged in when it comes to connected vehicles?

Lukas Neckermann:

Well, if you take a look at the marketing for a future of fully autonomous vehicles, there's always two examples. One is this fully connected world where you've got the TV or you've got a meeting or you've got a family having a disagreement or a discussion in the vehicle. So a highly active, and the other one is people sleeping or resting, napping, relaxing in the vehicle. So you really have the entire breadth of marketing in terms of what's possible when vehicles do fully drive themselves, whether they're shared or single occupancy vehicles. Of course, I'd prefer the shared. But driving has always been this, I don't know this in between thing.

For most of the time, the driver has minimized their cognitive functions because driving along the highway at 60 miles per hour until or unless something happens, is a fairly routine activity. But it's really, the difference is in those edge cases, what happens when someone cuts you off, someone pulls into your lane. Those are the times when the vehicle or the driver is challenged. And that's why we can't be totally cocooned. That's why we can't be fully relaxed until such a point where the vehicle is fully and completely L four automated. We need the awareness and the ability and the skillset of an alert and competent and capable driver. We're not there yet with the fully autonomous vehicles. In the meantime, we're going to ask every driver to continue upping their skillset to use connectivity and automation to their benefit and not as an excuse to relax.

Stacey Papp:

You said something that terrified me and I've seen it, but the napping or the sleeping in the car, I get it. And I know from a marketing spin, what they're trying to do. But if you really think about that, that's terrifying that you can just one day and thankfully you said we're not there yet, and I fully agree, but you can just get in, close the door, shut your eyes, and in 25 minutes you trust that this vehicle will get you to where you need to go safely. I would argue that at least just for me and in the driver's seat that I sit in, literally, I'm way more alert in a vehicle. And I think anybody who's ever had an accident, I had one when I was 18, that was pretty serious to a slight fender bender, would probably say, yeah, your senses are a little heightened. And I almost feel like they should be. So again, I know it's a marketing spin and I get it, but it's also terrifying if you really think about it. That's one day where the world could be.

Lukas Neckermann:

Well, we're not really that far away from it because if you're in a ride hail vehicle, an Uber or a Lyft or Boulder or [inaudible], whatever, wherever in the world you're listening from, that's really no different because ultimately you'll be sitting in the back and you don't really care if there's a driver in the front or not. So you as a passenger already have that chance to relax if you're being driven. And in terms of there being no driver, there are certainly some pilots in China, in the US, across Europe, all over the world. There are plenty of pilots already ongoing of robo taxi season in particular, shared autonomous vehicles. But at the moment, it's not something we see every day on most streets of the world.

Stacey Papp:

I may now have new nightmares about falling asleep behind the wheel of vehicle. So thanks for that. No, I totally, and I fully get it, but I think that for the control enthusiasts out there, I hear you. Yeah, it's a definite mental switch. And technology is not only powering how we talk to people, but how we get to talk to those people as far as logistics. So it's,

Lukas Neckermann:

Right.

Stacey Papp:

We're in it, I think for a real interesting pun intended ride. So Ford CEO Mark Fields was quoted as saying in the news that, "The automotive industry is not about getting from point A to point B anymore, and it's more about changing the way the world moves." Break that down for us. What's the role of connectivity or shared mobility here?

Lukas Neckermann:

Well, first of all, I would say that most OEMs have been in the habit not of bringing people from point A to point B, but actually selling sheet metal. They've been in the business of making sure that you purchase a vehicle from them that yes, then brings you from point A to point B. But changing the way the world moves is much broader than just being car sharing or ride hailing. Those are all experiments Daimler, BMW, Ford, and others, GM as well had car sharing and ride hailing operations. And probably most of them have failed with those operations because that's just really the first step. The second step of the mobility revolution is re-imagining what our cities look like, how we actually use vehicles to bring not just people from A to B, but also goods from A to B.

Stacey Papp:

Sure.

Lukas Neckermann:

Because if I bring goods from A to B, it also reduces my need to have a vehicle. Think about why people actually own and use a car. For many, it's commuting to work. Now, in a post pandemic world, a lot of people aren't commuting,

Stacey Papp:

So different.

Lukas Neckermann:

As much anymore. Right. It's very different. You can work remotely. So maybe your need for a vehicle for commuting is reduced. And if you're getting your groceries and so many other things delivered, perhaps you're only using your vehicle once a week or once every few weeks, and you're only using it to take that road trip once a month or on a holiday. At that point you say, well, why do I actually own a vehicle? So it changes the way people move, but it also changes the way goods move. And as a consequence, it changes the way cities and transport infrastructure looks like. It's more integrated, it's more varied. We have different sizes of vehicles as well.

The autonomous shuttles, they fill this space between the privately owned car, a four-seater or a five-seater and a bus, which may be a 40 or an 80 seater. So a lot of these shuttles are around, the sizes of 10, 20, 30 passenger. So it's a new form factor in mobility. Yeah. So you have all kinds of new things. Not all of these things are going to work. Some of them are going to stick. A great example of what's sticking is e-bikes, right? So in most of the Western world, e-bikes now outsell regular bikes. Some of this is a result of the pandemic once again, because people saw an opportunity to change the way they moved around. But also the capability of an e-bike is such that, well, hey, maybe that five mile commute to work, Hey, that's really possible on an e-bike, even if it's going uphill.

I don't even break a sweat if I'm on an e-bike. So that's certainly been a breakthrough over the last couple of years. And this takes us back to the fleet and mobility manager as well, because they can now think about how do I use cargo bikes? How do I integrate shared bikes into my mobility mix? Can I transport things from A to B? All of those vehicles are also quite obviously going to be connected as well. Right. So you've got this convergence of the connectivity, the electrification, and obviously the automation as well coming together. And it's something that frankly, most of the legacy OEMs are struggling to get a grip on, because again, they're in the business of selling sheet metal that's changing, but ultimately that's their expertise. So then you have lots and lots of new entrants coming into the market that are quite substantial in size and scale as well.

Stacey Papp:

Well, we are going to change the way people are moving one way or another, right? I mean, you bring up the topic of micromobility like e-bikes or scooters. And to your exact point in a post pandemic world, our lives are so different. And not just how we're living inside our homes, but how we are going to the grocery store. You learned you didn't have to, not only was it not safe three years ago to do that for the most part, but you don't have to, thanks to Instacart and DoorDash and all of these people who use technology to do exactly what we're talking about and pivot in order to provide a service that makes life easier. And I think that's really what we're talking about here is how is technology really providing services that make everything easier from fleet managers all the way down to the rider or the driver.

Lukas Neckermann:

Absolutely right. And taking it back to your quote from Mark Fields earlier, the OEMs have this real innovator's dilemma. They've built up an entire ecosystem around ownership of the car. And now you have this new ecosystem. And I really don't get tired of saying that mobility is a new industry. There are lots and lots of companies that are in the mobility industry without having any connection to the automotive industry, right?

Stacey Papp:

Sure.

Lukas Neckermann:

Because there's zero ownership companies, just like you got rid of your bookshelf and your DVD stand because you now have a Kindle and because you have Netflix and because you've got a subscription to your favorite ebook or music subscription service, Spotify, whatever it may be. So you can now have that for mobility as well. And I think, to be honest, we'll go that way with the shared autonomous vehicle as well. I wrote an article a couple of years ago actually that says, don't buy an autonomous vehicle. Not because I want people to not buy, but because I don't think that they will be able to. The fully connected vehicle will require updates to such a degree, there'll be a lot like your smartphone. It's part owned by the carrier. Right. You think you own it, but the reality is somebody else will have control of the software because they need it to be constantly and permanently up to date.

Stacey Papp:

So speaking of technology, and you touched on this a little bit earlier and it can be a polarizing topic, but I want to go into the world of autonomous for a second. So what would you say are the top three benefits of autonomous vehicles and really how do you see fleet based businesses incorporating these if at all, into their fleets in the future?

Lukas Neckermann:

Well, first of all, when we talk about autonomous, it's not a yes or no, do it or don't do it. To a certain degree, it is because you say, is there a driver or is there not a driver? Or is there a steering wheel and is there not a steering wheel? But the progression towards fully autonomous is a step-by-step progression. Right. We start with teleoperations, which we already have in yards and in factories and in mining. Then we have guided autonomy or monitored autonomy, and then we transition only then to fully automated vehicles. So what a fleet manager can do today with the capabilities of autonomous today, they can use either teleoperated or part autonomous vehicles to reposition, right, or to bring vehicles to drivers. They can deploy shuttles within their campuses or within their yards or within their defined areas. They can use autonomous delivery robots. Starship has already done millions and millions of grocery and pizza deliveries.

Stacey Papp:

That's so cool by the way. I think that's so cool. I really do. Sorry to interrupt you, but I think when you start talking about, Hey, my pizza got delivered this way, you're like, oh, wow. What a world we live in.

Lukas Neckermann:

Absolutely. And we're beginning now to get into the longer distance automated trucking and freight logistics. So IKEA is using autonomous trucks to transport goods from a warehouse near Houston to Dallas. And there's a real autonomous highway, if you will, where there's a lot of testing going on between those two cities with a bunch of companies. So really reimagining the last mile, but also re-imagining those trunk routes that are the core of so many logistics activities. So I want fleet and mobility managers, not to just think about self-driving cars and robo taxis, but to think about the big picture. Fleets of teleoperated and highly automated vehicles of all shapes and sizes from the one that delivers the pizza to the meeting, to the robots that are working in the warehouses, all the way to the shipping and the freight at the airports, at the shipping ports, and also between warehouses.

Stacey Papp:

So I think this really is the theme of our time together today is reimagining, and I like what you said about reimagine the last mile, but then we're really asking fleet managers reimagine autonomous and what that means to you and your fleet strategy.

Lukas Neckermann:

Absolutely. And it gets back to what we said earlier, Stacey, that the fleet manager is no longer just managing a fleet. They are mobility managers. Right. They have a much, much bigger responsibility on their shoulders because they have so many more things to think about, but also, frankly, so many more tools at their disposal to create sustainability, to create efficiencies, and to really use all of those tools, not just for better cars on the fleet, but to help create a better world.

Stacey Papp:

Yeah. Last question for you, and this is my favorite question to ask all of our Mile Marker guests.

Lukas Neckermann:

Sure.

Stacey Papp:

It's the crystal ball question, so get your prognostication hat out. So if you had a crystal ball, how does the incorporation of connected and autonomous vehicles shape operations for fleet based businesses in the next decade for the better?

Lukas Neckermann:

I think the fleet and mobility manager is going from being well, an afterthought or a service provider within the business to being a central function in a lot of businesses because they're the ones who are creating efficiencies. They're the ones who are helping define some of the operations and some of the sustainability objectives of the business. Right. If the fleet and mobility manager says, look, we're going to not just electrify our fleet, but we're going to automate certain parts of our fleet, that means that the business needs to completely rethink some of their operations. Right. So it becomes more central to the entire business to think about these people and goods transports within the business. And I think that's the real opportunity that we see across this well, this industry.

Stacey Papp:

So I want to thank you so much for being here today. I always enjoy talking to you, and this was incredible. I think this,

Lukas Neckermann:

It's a real pleasure.

Stacey Papp:

Yeah, this was so illuminating in so many ways, and I think our listener base would agree that the insights and knowledge you provided from everything from connected to autonomous and really talking about the role the fleet manager is was so huge. I think just it's really, I know you're passionate about this, and I could trip over myself saying goodbye to you because it's so amazing to hear all of your knowledge and just really kind of siphon all of that from you. So that's my very long-winded way of saying thank you for being here. You are such a professional, and I enjoy spending time with you, and no doubt our readers will enjoy listening to you and your insights as well. So thank you again. I really appreciate it.

Lukas Neckermann:

A real pleasure. Thank you. Thank you so much, Stacey. And I can really only encourage your listeners to listen first of all to all of the other podcasts that you've done, but also just to dig deeper. Perhaps also reach out and look at some of the white papers and eBooks that I've written, that we've written together as well, and to just dig deeper, because there's a world of opportunity out there, and it's a super exciting time. Perhaps the most exciting time for our industry.

Stacey Papp:

Well you are such a champion in mobility industry, so we're lucky to have such a cheerleader behind us and such a passionate knowledge expert. So again, I thank you and I cannot wait for the next one, whatever that might be. Hopefully soon. And until the next time, keep moving the world better. Thank you for listening to The Mile Marker Podcast. Stay tuned for another episode, full of insights and ideas to keep the mobility industry moving forward. In the meantime, follow us on social media and be sure to like, comment and share today's episode.