Improved Vehicle Design Through OTA

Tesla is a losing enterprise that won’t last – Bob Lutz

Tesla again tops owner satisfaction surveys – Consumer reports.

 

Bob Lutz made news several months ago with his bold prediction that Tesla would go out of business before 2019 because it couldn’t buy batteries cheaper than GM. Meanwhile Consumer Reports in December 2017 showed again that Tesla had by far the highest owner satisfaction of any brand at 90% with 98% of Tesla owners saying they would buy a Tesla again. I’m sorry Mr. Lutz, but when Chevy has a dismal 72% rate and the Cadillac has an even worse 64% I just don’t see GM putting Tesla out of business anytime soon.

Thinking from a cost basis and operational efficiency completely misses the idea of consumer satisfaction and willingness to buy. You can bet that once upon a time Nokia and BlackBerry could make a cheaper phone than Apple.

Like the iPhone, one of the delights of owning a Tesla is that it gets better over time. This is a point that should not be missed. Tesla is generations ahead of the rest of the industry in gathering data and more importantly acting upon it to improve the vehicles and the driver experience.

The benefit of the continuously improving Tesla also has affected the resale value. As reported yesterday by Globe and Mail, Tesla vehicles hold their value better than other electric vehicles. IHS’s Mark Boyadjis attributes this difference to Tesla’s advanced update capability.

While much has been made in the press over Tesla adding additional autonomous features, we shouldn’t forget the more mundane improvements. By collecting tremendous amounts of performance data Tesla is able to improve the software of every component. Talking to Tesla owners, they absolutely love the commitment made to improving the vehicle. You get in your car in the morning and you get a message – your car just got better.

These kinds of improvements shouldn’t be limited to electric vehicles, think of the tuning of an internal combustion engine. I once spoke to the OEM engineer in charge of setting the parameters for an engine control unit. She explained the process where data was gathered from a few dozen vehicles in the development phase and used in her analysis. Imagine if instead the data could be analyzed from all 120 thousand vehicles in the field and optimization updates sent regularly. Then the phrase “Your Mileage May Vary” would change to “Your mileage just got better.”

I like to think of small iteration loops and large iteration loops. In the small iterations you can optimize the system for the actual use in this vehicle. In the larger loop you can optimize the fundamental design of the components. Are parts of the drivetrain undersized or oversized for their actual usage? Is heat creating an issue on the electronics? Is the TCU antenna giving the throughput we expect? All of these issues and much more could be solved.

This is where eSync comes in. With one system you collect the real-time operational data and push improvements. The car gets better. Your customers are happier.

Or don’t. Maybe your luck will be better than Nokia’s.

 

Author: Rick Kreifeldt

Rick Kreifeldt is the Executive Director of the eSync Alliance. A technology executive with 25 years experience and 27 patents in Connected Cars, networked systems and signal processing.

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