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Tech Trends Identified by SEMA

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Nov. 20, 2020—On Nov. 6, automotive industry professionals gathered for the virtual SEMA 360 event to discuss the upcoming trends and advancements in vehicle technology. 

Carla Bailo, president and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research, offered key takeaways on what to expect in the coming years and how the industry has shifted since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The presentation, “Vehicle Technology and Business Opportunities,” touched on micro-mobility, smart cities, the rising interest in electric vehicles and more, and ADAPT captured it all.

SEMA’s vice president of vehicle technology and moderator for the event, John Waraniak, kicked off the presentation by saying: “Don’t let it become a capability crisis—prepare for the future.”


  1. Home Delivery

With many people working from home and sheltering in place, Bailo says the pandemic has caused an accelerated adoption of home delivery services across the country. Families that used to peruse the aisles of their grocery store can now have all of their favorite snacks and meals dropped at their doorstep, which Bailo says she doesn’t see changing any time soon because people have grown accustomed to it. 

  1. Electrification 

The trend is no secret to industry observers.

“We have seen a huge uptick in electric vehicles,” says Bailo. 

While the sales of electric vehicles seem to be small, she says they are growing each year. In fact, between 2019 and 2020, electric vehicle sales dropped less than any other vehicle segment in the market. 

The pandemic also brought about new opportunities for electrified vehicles to deliver goods and services. 

Bailo says, “We are going to see more and more EVs being used in the delivery market.”

Bailo also predicts that automakers and tech companies alike will begin to deploy fleets of electric vehicles. 

“If you get electric vehicles out in fleet services where there is less downtime, you can then manage charging levels properly,” she says. 

  1. Transit

When it comes to mass transit, Bailo says “it is not going away, nor should it, but how it looks will change.” 

In the coming months, and years, mass transit vehicles will have enhanced cleaning measures, reduced capacities, social distancing, and compulsory masks, says Bailo. 

Micro-mobility, like electric scooters, has also started to rebound, says Bailo, in part due to the implementations of slow streets and enforced social distancing.  

“If I have my wish,” she says, “We’re going to see cities keep a lot of the implementations they put in place.”

  1. Smart Cities

Bailo also encourages the transition to “smart cities.” 

“A smart city is one that is liveable, workable, and sustainable, but continues to grow with technology,” Bailo says. 

What sets a smart city apart from traditional cities is its ability to respond to changing environments and landscapes. Take your vehicle for example, Bailo says, “95 percent of the time, you’re not using the vehicle.” But when it isn’t being used, where is it being stored? In the garage or along the street taking up an entire bike lane?

“We are not using vehicles and vehicle space efficiently,” says Bailo. “We need to think of new ways of doing things.” 

Along the same thread, Bailo also emphasized the need for more diverse solutions depending on the geographic location, climate, and demographic of the city. 

“One solution in one city, is not going to work in another,” she says. 

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