Remember the phrase “press” conferences? The word “press” was used because most of the reporters worked for newspapers or magazines—content created on printing presses.
Now they’re called “news” conferences or “media availabilities” because the landscape includes journalists filing for more electronic and online outlets—collectively, “the media.”
The auto industry is now deep in the midst of a similar identity metamorphosis. It’s no longer just about cars, trucks, engines and design or what rolls off the assembly lines. It’s about the technological wonders stuffed into vehicles of today and planned for the future.
It’s about the concept of moving to a society where we’re just as happy to share vehicles as personally own one.
It’s about vehicles that can “speak” to each other, drive themselves and run on electric power instead of petrol.
It’s about an industry that can no longer operate in isolation. It’s now a focus on ecosystems that encompass those who develop and produce everything from semiconductors and microchips to batteries, sensors and cybersecurity defenses.
Add in operators of ride sharing and other modes of transportation and we’ve moved from the singular automotive industry to the all-encompassing world of mobility.
For communicators, the word “mobility” means movement, as well—movement away from narrow-focused strategies surrounding the single auto industry to an integrated approach that uses multiple tactics that tie in the related aspects of the mobility ecosystems.
For starters, think about electric vehicles. Several automakers have either set goals or made commitments to replace their internal combustion engine product lines with vehicles that run on batteries. New EVs seem to be announced every week. A recent study shows consumer consideration of electric vehicles has doubled since 2018. As more are unveiled, that consideration is likely to spike.
It’s no longer enough to limit expertise on the auto companies. To effectively communicate you have to become experts in subjects like battery chemistry, EV drivetrain technology and recharging infrastructure, including understanding how each aspect of mobility interacts.
You must also look for excitement in unexpected places.
When you also consider the various technologies required for infotainment, navigation and autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles, the opportunities to develop relationships with a broad range of suppliers really begin to expand.
Add to that the aspect of mobility that goes beyond vehicle development and production but simply what role those vehicles play in our lives. It goes far beyond grabbing a ride share – it’s how goods and services are delivered to our homes, stores, factories and businesses (some in self-driving trucks and vans). It’s all part of the many mobility ecosystems tying in technology and function.
Mobility isn’t always horizontal, by the way. Vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (Vtols) are deep into development and will deliver passengers and packages to intended destinations through the air instead of surface arteries.
Of course, mobility must be managed. Advanced fleet management technology has made it possible to better monitor vehicle movement, driver behavior and call for service. At least one company has developed a way to remotely operate autonomous freight vehicles.
Cars and trucks are also communicating with one another and even with traffic lights to help avoid accidents and jams through technologies called vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X). That’s managing mobility, too.
Here at Franco, we’re also managing mobility by combining our team’s deep knowledge of this fast-changing collection of industries with our expertise in creating integrated communications programs to support our clients.
Just as the “press” became “the media,” the singular auto industry has morphed into “mobility.” It’s all about a world in constant movement physically, technically and philosophically, and it’s easy to get lost.
Let us know if we can help you find your way.
Ed Garsten is an integrated media consultant at Franco. Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.