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Autocar’s Drivers of Change: The winners’ circle

At Allianz Partners, we’re a very proud sponsor of Autocar’s Drivers of Change. This is a competition that encourages and creates a platform for people looking to make real change and innovation in different areas of the automotive industry: technology, digital and retail. 

This year the winners will receive £5,000 and the opportunity to attend the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which is one of the biggest annual events in the automotive industry.

As sponsors, we got a ring-side seat to learn more about the submissions, innovators and who caught the judges’ eyes the most. We’ve pulled the highlights from the virtual event for you to read through, as well as a round-up of the finalists and their ideas that earnt them a top spot in this year’s Autocar’s Drivers of Change.

Technology award:

Kelsie Osbourne:

“I’m proposing the implementation of modular in-built wireless charging points across the country in assigned parking spaces. This mass infrastructure would work on a credit basis. Such as, you’d park in a space and your car would communicate wirelessly with the primary coil to immediately begin charging where necessary. This energy transfer will then cut off when appropriate energy has been transmitted.”

Kelsie stated that there are currently 31.6 million cars in the UK, and with the proposal to end sales of Petrol and Diesel cars by 2035, we should assume that all of these millions of cars will be electric. She has tapped on a very important part of the market, as all of these electric vehicles will need to be charged on a regular basis.

Kelsie pointed out that there are a multitude of issues that are faced with going electric. These include more expensive vehicles, concerns about running out of power and a lack of charging points. Her modular design would help with this demand and hopefully dispel some of the concerns that the general public have about electric vehicles.

Gurjit Sandhu:

“The car industry is clearly going through massive change as we transition from internal combustion engines to electric. That’s important as our generation takes more responsibility around leaving the next generation a healthier planet. I think a big part of that is our ability to harness renewable energy, so that cars are produced, powered and disposed of as cleanly as possible. […] My idea is to harness the air flowing over and through the car and using small turbines in strategic locations in the car, so the aerodynamics aren’t affected the turbines would spin and create energy to recharge the car’s batteries. Thereby increasing the range of the car or giving the car manufacturer the option to install smaller batteries which would decrease the cost of the car’s production.”

Gurjit was keen to make sure that the turbines within the cars were durable, affordable and added value to any customer, be that the manufacturer of the car or the purchaser of the car. He stated clearly that it is important that the turbines would be checked and serviced alongside any other normal service of the vehicle and that it would have a lifespan that at least matched the car it was installed in.

He outlined that turbines are historically used in many engineering projects and have proven to be effective in those areas. “I think the use-case for this is universal. Wind is everywhere, when cars drive they’ll always have access to this unlimited source.” using a simple form of technology to drive forward new ways to conserve and prolong and provide renewable, green energy and charging within vehicles.

WINNER: Tomas Costa Capezzone:

Tomas’s idea is an innovative solution to increased electricity demand across the Globe, which creates risks of overloads, blackouts and harmonics, which are a kind of electricity contamination comprising a distortion of the normal waveform of electric currents caused by charging electric vehicles and other devices from home.

Ultimately, Tomas touched upon the fact that the number of electric vehicles will increase significantly over the next few years, meaning that the electricity source and quality will need to improve with time in order to keep up with the increasing demand. His invention, Smart Measurement Points, measures the harmonics produced by electric vehicles and, using 5G, they would automatically adjust charging times and other consumption to prevent overload and minimise harmonics.

Tomas spoke through the real benefits of having plug-in vehicles: the reduction of greenhouse gases and fossil fuels, their compatibility with renewable energies, the way they integrate well with Smart Cities and how they offer the option of low-cost energy transport. Furthermore, he worked with the University of Valladolid to conduct his research on a Nissan Leaf, to learn more about harmonics and develop his idea further.

“My idea is called ‘Smart Measurement Points’. In the UK, there are currently 0.5 million electric vehicles. I’m going to introduce what is going to be the evolution of electric transport. There is going to be an increase in the number of plug-in electric vehicles, and this with the evolution of AI, 5G and electric vehicles will create a Smart City. But, a Smart City also involves a Smart Grid. A Smart City is an intelligent city where all sorts of transports are connected and interact with each other. My idea is to create Smart Measurement Points […] these points will be able to communicate and will have a ‘self-management’ system.’

Retail award:

Jacob Sotiris:

“As the industry changes more than we can imagine, I wanted individuals to feel comfortable and confident using video in digital skills so as to give customers an incredible virtual experience like they were with them in the showroom. Already having the technology in place, it was about empowering these individuals to create amazing stand-out videos to help them enhance the customer journey. When I applied to the Autocar Drivers of Change, the digital masterclass looked very different and it was just an idea. Today, it’s an engaging, interactive e-learning experience to help dealerships upskill their staff and future-proof them, and it’s now ready.”

Jacob spoke candidly about the challenges that people within the retail sector of the automotive industry face in terms of transferring their skills when communicating with customers face-to-face. He highlighted the importance of future-proofing staff within this sector as videos are used more and more to connect with people in all fields.

Jacob’s idea involved using videos to connect with customers and enhance the customer journey and connect with potential customers right at the beginning of the sales journey, meaning the human element would be there much sooner than it has been historically.

WINNER: Marvin Samuels:

“CARBUSI is an app that would help buyers who are not necessarily up to speed on cars, brands or models but will help them identify a car that they have seen on the street and they like the look of it and would like to know more about it. It will use image recognition, so it would either use the app or their camera on their phone to capture an image of the car that they’ve seen. […] The image recognition software would identify that car, that information is then fed back to the user so they can identify the car they’ve spotted and start doing more investigating into what the car offers.”

Marvin specified that it is important for the app to offer information that is pertinent to the modern car buyer, avoiding over complicated automotive jargon and information about the vehicle that may be redundant to those looking for a car, but more relevant information around insurance, new and used pricing, road tax costs, tyre replacement costs and measurements around boot space and headroom, all displayed in easy to understand, plain English.

Another innovative element was using augmented reality to show the user whether or not the car would fit on their drive or in their garage. This would help give the customer the confirmation they need to ensure this type of car fits their lifestyle and needs. Lastly, they can then contact the dealer through the app to arrange a viewing or a test drive, which aims to take away the sometimes daunting element of entering a dealership and browsing cars in there.

Lilly-Ann Hulse:

“Currently there is no platform for customers in which they can browse for different automotive retail services. My concept is called AutoSwitch, and is a platform where retail services can be found in one marketplace. The app will offer car renting, trading, buying and insurance from both individuals and businesses. The effect of technology and digital solutions have not only drastically changed ideologies but also emotions of customers. People don’t want to browse over different websites and through different applications to meet their needs.”

Lilly-Ann presented to the panel her plans for the app, which involves each customer or business having their own profile to log into to browse automotive services for their vehicles. The app embodies the cross-over between customer to customer and business to customer communication, with customers able to connect with each other through the app to rent, trade and purchase cars and businesses connecting with customers to offer sales, test drives and insurance to people looking for it on the app.

Digital award:

WINNER: Madeline Cheah:

Madeline’s idea focused on the problems that the automotive industry face today in terms of criminal activity occurring through cyber-attacks on self-driving vehicles. She pointed out that in the future these criminal activities would only get worse as cars become more intelligent and their parts more desirable. She wants to use Cyber Security to protect our vehicles and ensure that it is protected safely through AI and automation.

“The first step towards [my idea] is something I call Automated and Systematic security testing, or ASSeT for short. It’s basically a way of using attack trees to chart a pathway through a system so that we can automatically test that system. In terms of security testing that’s simulating an attacker’s behaviour, we can apply that to a system under test and we can get some output. The successful tests might be determined as successful attacks, which means we can reason about the defences that we need to put into place. When we test the system with the simulated attacking behaviours, we can also start training up intelligent anomaly detection and because the ASSeT detection is based on attack trees we also want to concentrate on generating the attack trees automatically. Right now, these attack trees codify the attackers behaviour, but if we can generate it we can make it much faster.”

Cheah’s solution is split into four parts. It begins with ‘attack trees’, which are blueprints for different types of cyber-attacks, these are then fed into a program that uses these blueprints to simulate attacks and then feeds back on the results. From this, machine learning can then be used to ‘teach’ the program to identify criminal activity automatically, and then creates ways to defend the cars from such attacks.

Tom Harle:

“I do a lot of travel with my work and just seeing how difficult climate change is becoming to ignore and how it’s impacting peoples lives where previously it was always something that happened to other people, the impact is getting closer and closer to home in the West and that’s something that we see consumers responding to. […] What could we do {as one of the biggest contributors as the Automotive and Mobility industry} to respond to this and give people confidence going forward? We need to make it easier for people to understand, we need a system that makes sense of the full carbon impact of people’s decisions, from driving style to manufacturing history. I’m calling it a ‘Smart Metre for your car’.”

Tom’s idea essentially puts people in a position where they are able to track and monitor their own impact on the environment through their vehicle. The importance of changing the way we live and how we drive is highlighted through this idea, as the impacts of climate change becomes more prevalent in our societies, this innovative idea would encourage people to watch what they’re doing and give them a daily reminder to become more carbon neutral.

Luke Greengrass:

“My idea is an Open Mobility Platform, which is a service-based architecture that is a set of services flexibly built. You consolidated all of the offers throughout their entire journey into one place, you bring those data sources {finance, payments, maintenance, retails, fuel, charging, mobility provision} into one place and present those outward at the right time through the right channels. It’s omni-channel. It shouldn’t be about an app, it’s not just about a car or website, it’s about engaging in the right way. […] Crucially, this is very much about eco-systems, it takes a lot of people to serve a customer and bringing all those partners in is absolutely key here. So this brings everything together and puts the customer at the centre.”

Luke went on to describe how this is crucial for a customer journey in the automotive industry that is ‘broken’, and needs to be fixed in order to provide a smoother more satisfactory customer journey for all who want any sort of automotive service. The mobility platform is designed to enable partnerships and a better customer experience and will add a competitive advantage towards businesses that implement it, if not, Luke highlights the risk of losing out and being behind the curve of innovation.

Luke expressed the desire to want to future proof this mobility platform and create an ecosystem for people to travel, drive, get services in order bring everyone together through a single entry point.

If you want to learn more about the Drivers of Change Awards and want to enter in the future, visit the Autocar Drivers of Change website today to get all the information you need. If you are interested in browsing more of our advice and interview content, head over to our Allianz Assistance website today to browse our Automotive news and advice hub today.