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The big 3, electric startups compete for your business

The automotive industry is at perhaps it’s biggest turning point since the dawn of the assembly...
The automotive industry is at perhaps it’s biggest turning point since the dawn of the assembly line and the internal combustion engine.(WJRT)
Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 6:15 PM EST
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WJRT) - The automotive industry is at perhaps it’s biggest turning point since the dawn of the assembly line and the internal combustion engine.

“So you see the traditionals starting to figure out how to look at this as a whole new challenge, as opposed to just an evolution,” said Brett Smith, Center For Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

Smith said there are a number of advantages and disadvantages for the big three and many of the startup electric companies.

The big three have the foundation laid with a loyal customer base, plant operations and dealer networks.

The startups have the advantage of not having to convert from gas power to electric powered vehicles.

“Their conversion, that change from thinking in ICE (internal combustion engine) to thinking in BEV (battery electric vehicles) is a big step, and it’s one that you can do one foot at a time, but maybe it’s better to do both feet at a time,” Smith said.

Smith said what’s worth noting here is the amount of investment into electrification from both the big 3 and the startup companies -- even in the midst of the pandemic. Typically, during uncertain economic times -- companies will pull away from investing in new technology and stick with what makes them profitable. That’s not happening here.

“Someone described it to me as the technology has moved from advanced development to product development, meaning it was part of the programs moving forward,” he said.

And that means much sooner rather than later -- we’ll be seeing a lot more electric vehicles on the road.

The question now becomes -- will consumers stay loyal to the big three’s electrification efforts or go with a startup company?

“Obviously there will be those that are comfortable with their dealer, with their brand. But as you go through this massive shift, there are going to be a lot of players and a lot of new opportunities, a lot of new niches, a lot of new vehicles and a lot of opportunity to both gain and lose share.”

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