SEMA Show 2023: A Reality Check on Automotive Tech Advancements

November 20, 2023

Hello, tech enthusiasts! Let’s chat about the recent SEMA Show 2023. Just last week, the glitter of Las Vegas shone a bit brighter with automotive buffs from across the globe gathering for this much-anticipated event. It’s an event that is usually highly anticipated, but this year a lot of the usual excitement wasn’t found, as the focus was less on the new “wows” and more on simple improvements that left everyone a bit underwhelmed.

A Slowdown in Innovation?

First things first, let’s address the elephant in the room. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a curveball for many industries, and the auto sector is no exception. With remote work becoming the norm, the essential ‘face-to-face’ element in collaborative innovation took a back seat. This shift has impacted how companies and businesses progress technologically.

Innovation, especially in a field as dynamic as automotive technology, thrives on teamwork and spontaneous exchanges of ideas – something that’s challenging to replicate in a remote setting. The casual ‘watercooler’ conversations, impromptu team meetings, and hands-on collaborative sessions have been replaced by scheduled video calls and emails. This change, while necessary, has inadvertently put a damper on the organic flow of ideas that drive significant breakthroughs.

The automotive industry is resilient and adaptive. Despite the current lull, companies are continuously working behind the scenes, laying the groundwork for the next wave of innovations. As the world gradually adjusts to the new normal, and as teams adapt to hybrid or return-to-office models, we can expect a resurgence in collaborative efforts and, consequently, technological advancements.

SEMA 2023: What Went Down?

At the SEMA Show this year, what stood out was not what was there, but rather what wasn’t. The buzz of groundbreaking advancements was, frankly, a bit muted. Yes, there were shiny cars and cool gadgets, but the ‘next big thing’ in auto tech seemed to be on a bit of a hiatus.

Imagine walking into a giant room filled with the coolest toy cars you can think of – that’s kind of what SEMA is like. But this year, while the cars looked amazing, the technology in them wasn’t really new. It was more about making what we already have even better. It’s like when you get a new version of your favorite video game; it’s still the game you love, just a little bit improved.

The 4G/5G Video DVR Conundrum

One of the talking points at SEMA was the rise of 4G/5G connected video DVR systems in vehicles. Now, this might sound fancy and futuristic, but let’s break it down. These systems rely on a monthly subscription-based cellular network to operate. But here’s the catch – are consumers really willing to keep shelling out monthly fees for this?

Think about it. We all have essentials that we don’t mind paying for – our phones, homes, food, and even our cars. But when it comes to additional monthly subscriptions, especially for something like a car DVR system, the enthusiasm wanes.

Remember OnStar by GM? It was meant to be this revolutionary in-car security and service feature. But, to put it mildly, it didn’t quite take off as expected. Why? Well, it boils down to the consumer mindset. We love convenience, but we’re also budget-conscious.

The Tesla Example

Consider Tesla owners – known for their love for tech and innovation. Even they are hesitant to pay an extra $9.99 a month (or $99 annually) for vehicle cloud connection. Why? Because they can easily use their smartphones and apps to locate charging stations and more. This practical approach is something many can relate to.

When you couple that with the fact that many drivers, those with new cars and older, have radios that connect directly with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto there is little urgency to add another paid car connection that may or may not operate as well as a phone or with the same level of familiarity.

Try Again Next Year

The SEMA Show 2023, while fascinating, was a bit of a reality check. It seems we’re at a crossroads in automotive technology. The future is undoubtedly exciting, but it also needs to be practical. As we move forward, the focus should be on innovations that blend cutting-edge technology with real-world applicability and affordability.

While the SEMA Show this year didn’t have those jaw-dropping tech revelations, it did bring to light an essential aspect of innovation – consumer perspective. As much as we love advancements, they need to make sense in our daily lives and budgets.

As we gear up for what the future holds, let’s remember – the best innovation is one that makes life better, not more complicated!