Automotive is big at the Mobile World Congress.
MWC19, the largest exhibition for the mobile industry, was held in Barcelona last week. I was in attendance, along with several other members of the Berg Insight team. The exhibition floor was flooded with “5G is here” messages from players across the ecosystem including Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm and others. Visitors gathered around new product announcements such as 5G handsets from various vendors, foldable smartphones from Huawei and Samsung and Microsoft’s new HoloLens 2 headset. MWC has during the past decade evolved to cover a large ecosystem, including the automotive industry. Carmakers such as Daimler, BMW, SEAT, Volkswagen, Toyota, Ford and Tesla exhibited at the conference. The Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler, Dieter Zetsche, who participated in a panel discussion with Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, claimed that “the car is probably the most complex and the most intelligent part of the IoT ecosystem”, thus explaining Daimler’s presence at MWC19.
Last year, I wrote that connected car and autonomous driving were increasingly important topics at the Mobile World Congress. The executive director of Connected Vehicle & Services at Ford – Don Butler – confirmed at 5GAA’s session Connecting the Mobility World with 5G that Ford will begin to deploy C-V2X in all new models launched in the US starting in 2022. The main challenges to develop C-V2X are claimed to be related to legal aspects such as spectrum allocation and viable business models for the ecosystem rather than technology-related. Geely also announced its plans to launch the first mass-produced C-V2X enabled vehicles in China together with Qualcomm in 2021. Moreover, Qualcomm announced its first 5G automotive platform along with the 6th generation multimode LTE modem for the automotive industry.
In comparison to last year, new mobility services were more frequently showcased by players in the automotive ecosystem. The week before MWC19, Daimler and BMW announced that the companies would invest more than € 1 billion in the jointly-owned mobility company comprising five business areas related to shared mobility. The announcement was discussed at various presentations and sessions at MWC19. The joint venture is expected compete in the ridehailing segment, especially in Europe, as well as maintain its leading position in the carsharing market. Interestingly, new micromobility vehicles were displayed at the exhibition floor. The shared bicycles from players such as Mobike and Ofo that were displayed last year were replaced by eScooters from Lime and Bolt. Moreover, SEAT introduced a “hyperconnected” concept car branded Minimó that has been developed as a mobility platform, showcasing the company’s vision of future urban mobility.
Overall, there are many innovative ideas at MWC19 related to transportation and the connected car. I heard panellists in the session Disruptive Innovation in Transport: Future Mobility claiming that flying taxis would be a more common mode of transport than electric scooters by 2030. This “sky is the limit” mindset is vastly represented at MWC. Will flying taxis be a viable part in the future transportation ecosystem? We will see. One thing is for certain: we saw a vast range or innovative solutions for transportation, automotive and road safety at this year’s MWC and we will most likely see new solutions at next year’s MWC.
Martin Svegander, Berg Insight
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