SEASON 2 / EPISODE 1 Pop Culture Tech Podcast

Cars Get Smart

A practical invention is also a pop culture icon: the automobile. Listen to this Pop Culture Tech episode to learn how cars get smart.


What’s In This Episode:

  • Blending passions: cars and technology
  • Customizing experiences
  • Digital buying and in-car innovations
  • Transforming data into insights and actions
  • Cloud, 5G and smart cities

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Featuring (In Order of Appearance)

Pop Culture Tech season 2, episode 1, “Cars Get Smart,” features (from left) Blakely Thomas-Aguilar, Sophie Seiwald and Sanjay Vishin.

Cars Get Smarter

People are passionate about cars. And auto manufacturers are shifting gears to electric and hybrid vehicles with even more automation, connectivity and comfort features.

The global automotive industry is expected to grow to just under nine trillion U.S. dollars by 2030, according to Statista. New vehicle sales are anticipated to account for around 38% of this value.

Changing customer buying patterns and experience demands have automotive leaders and suppliers charting a new course. All in all, organizations are fast-forwarding digital innovation in cars.

Digital Powers Buying, Systems and Vehicle Changes

Six or seven years ago, Mercedes-Benz began seriously hiring tech talent. Today, that team is called Mercedes-Benz.io. And its people are passionate about translating input from customers into outputs of digital experiences.

Sophie Seiwald, CEO and managing director of Mercedes-Benz.io, describes the origins of one of the most popular sections on the company’s website: the online car configurator. It’s a way for people to see, customize and explore the brand’s vehicles.

“We combined talent from the business about products with our world of technology and customer inputs and were able to deliver different prototypes until we got to an extremely simplified car configurator,” Seiwald said. “We’re now able to extend the passion that people show for our brand by providing a luxurious and premium experience online.”

Suppliers are also navigating new digital frontiers. Sanjay Vishin, an expert in digital automotive platforms, talks about cars as computers on wheels. Today’s teams have experts from a variety of backgrounds, such as software development and automotive engineering. And each focus on a variety of innovations, from infotainment systems to autonomous driving software.

Data Propels Advances

Mercedes-Benz.io sees data as a digital accelerator. To overcome silos, Seiwald’s team began a journey to democratize data within the organization. The ultimate goal provides equal access for actionable insights.

Now, Mercedes-Benz.io data analysts actively work with engineers to design and implement innovations. Seiwald values “empowering all of our people—not just data engineers and data scientists—to deal with that data.” Ultimately, that’s “critical to how we design our applications.”

The Road Ahead

For the people who say their favorite car is “the next one,“ there’s good news on the horizon. Vishin is excited about 5G and moving car connectivity beyond today’s link to the cloud.

“We’re also working on things where you connect…to an adjoining car,” Vishin explained. That opens up even more interesting applications—not only for cars, but also for smart cities.

All of the signals are green when it comes to driving innovation. There’s no doubt automotive innovators like Seiwald and Vishin are accelerating technology initiatives to make cars even smarter.