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Get In: The Software-Defined Vehicle Podcast from BlackBerry (Episode 12)

AUTOMOTIVE / 09.15.22 / Steve Kovsky

Recognizing the Trailblazers of Software-Defined Vehicle Technology With New MotorTrend Awards Program.

Update 03.08.23: New Episodes from Season 2 of "Get In: The Software Defined Vehicle Podcast," Are Now Available. 

As this podcast series has attempted to document in the past year, the automotive industry is undergoing its most significant transformation in our lifetimes, on a scale unmatched since perhaps the Industrial Revolution.

It’s fair to say, I think it’s a big deal.

It’s also fair to say, I’m not alone. In fact, when it comes to standing up and taking notice of this transformation, I’m in excellent company. Meet one such upstanding observer: Ed Loh, head of editorial for that iconic American chronicle of automotive achievement, MotorTrend.

Ed was recently our guest for the 12th and final episode of “Get In” for 2022, and he stopped in at our virtual studio to share some breaking news — about MotorTrend’s future editorial directions and how he is aligning them with the tectonic moves taking place among and within the world’s automakers. And I’m proud to add that BlackBerry is playing an important role in bringing these plans to fruition.

Click to watch the full Episode 12 podcast.

Telling Untold Stories

In a year of interviewing both startups and stalwarts in the field of connected, autonomous, shared, and electrified (aka, CASE) vehicles, we have met and mingled with a fascinating, global set of experts, from established brands such as AWS and Verizon to recent entries like Electra and Car IQ. A common thread running through all these conversations has been the emergence of a new class of vehicles — the so-called “software-defined vehicle” (SDV) — that is pushing the boundaries of personal transportation in innumerable genre-defying directions.

As a key supplier of core software platforms to the automotive industry for decades, BlackBerry and its team of experts behind the QNX® real-time operating system (RTOS) have long been aware of this shift, from cars defined primarily by their hardware, to fleets that are adaptable and configurable, and increasingly reliant on software code to define their features and capabilities. BlackBerry also recognized that while consumers are aware of macro trends in automotive, such as the conversion of drive trains to run on electrons instead of fossil fuels, electrification and automated driving systems are only the visible tip of an immense iceberg of new technologies, processes — and most importantly, people — that are inexorably changing the way humans get from Point A to Point B.

It was a story that needs telling, so we went in search of a storyteller, and found kindred spirits in the journalists at MotorTrend. In this podcast, you’ll learn about the catalysts that set the MotorTrend team down a parallel path to ours roughly a year ago, and about the multiyear program that the publication is leading to tell the story of the rise of SDVs, and of the people and organizations at the forefront of this new bow wave of automotive innovation.

Singing Unsung Praises

Today, MotorTrend and BlackBerry formally announced the creation of the annual SDV Awards, to honor and recognize pioneers and innovators at the core of the global SDV transformation.  Most of them have worked quietly behind the scenes, creating a new class of automobiles that is igniting the imaginations of today’s drivers and passengers. These individuals are changing more than the cars we are driving today, and the ones that may be driving us in the future. They are also remaking the industry itself, one car, one company, and one codebase at a time.

Watch the MotorTrend documentary, “Coding the Car.”

MotorTrend has a long history of unabashed storytelling about what’s really going on “under the hood” of our cars, and carmakers. The magazine was launched in 1949, the second publication by founder Robert Peterson. His first was called Hot Rod, a term that magazine takes significant credit for popularizing. In that same year, MotorTrend unveiled its coveted Car of the Year Award, beginning a long tradition of celebrating exemplars of automotive excellence. Today, the brand also oversees awards programs of SUV of the Year, Truck of the Year, Person of the Year (“Power List”), and Best Driver’s Car.

The MotorTrend Group has also embraced the modern shifts in publishing toward broadcast and online distribution as well as video, becoming the automotive jewel in the crown for the recently formed Warner Bros. Discovery media conglomerate. The resilience and enduring appeal of MotorTrend across multiple generations of car enthusiasts is remarkable in itself, speaking to its ability to keep pace with the shifting times and tastes of its audience.  

It is now embracing another monumental modern shift – the rise of the SDV.

Ripples From Pebbles

Loh says he first became aware of the magnitude of the shift at a Ford-hosted dinner during the 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, a world-renowned vintage and classic car show held in the Monterey Bay Peninsula in Northern California. Ford CEO Jim Farley had invited Loh and a few of his fellow automotive editors to a private dinner, where Loh observed the executive holding forth on somewhat surprising topics, considering the venue. These included impassioned descriptions of how many millions of lines of code went into the Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck, and the sensor integration required for the Mustang Mach-E.

“It was a little surprising and mystifying, given the location and the event,” says Loh. “We're in Monterey for a classic car show, and he's talking about all this really cutting-edge future stuff.” Farley’s bottom line: Automotive writers were missing the story. It was time for them to reexamine what’s really going on under the hood of the car industry.

A few months later, Loh found himself talking to BlackBerry about similar concepts. “We're bringing up this topic of embedded automotive software systems and their role within the vehicle,” he says. “I immediately went back to that conversation I had with Jim. Initially, I was a little hesitant that we were the right outlet to tell this story, because we're MotorTrend, we're very consumer-facing,” Loh says.

“But as I started to think about it more and do some more research,” says Loh, “I realized how massive the change is, and that we had already actually started down this road with previous winners, including when we gave Tesla car of the year back in 2013, and then the Chevy Bolt in 2017. Yes, the power train and electrification are a big deal, but the fundamental architecture is actually very different.”

This spawned the idea for a new type of awards program, the MotorTrend SDV Innovator Awards honoring key individuals redefining car technology. “We have a long history of giving awards,” says Loh. “We don't just do Car of the Year, we do Truck of the Year, SUV of the Year. We have a new one – Performance Vehicle of the Year. We also have an industry accolade called the Power List, which results in our Person of the Year. That really profiles the movers and shakers within the automotive business.”

Who’s Driving “Driverless” Car Development?

BlackBerry and MotorTrend experts began to exchange ideas, not just about how SDVs are evolving and their effect on the automotive industry, but also about who the key leaders and innovators are in this brave new world. “I can't really underscore how big a change this is for companies,” says Loh. “They have to go from essentially analog or mechanical processes to really thinking about the digital side and the coding, and everything that goes on the chip, in the cloud, on the sensor side.”

But finding the people driving this trend proved harder than he anticipated. Unlike the main executives at every automotive brand, the identities of these internal SDV experts are less well known — and not just outside the companies. Loh has found that in many cases, his longstanding company contacts “don't know who's working at their own company in a leadership position who can tell them all about ADAS (advanced driver-assisted systems) and how it's going to evolve into Level 2, 3, 4, 5 autonomy,” says Loh. He realized this was a story that needed to be told through the eyes of the MotorTrend team. “I'm really glad it's a multi-year partnership [with BlackBerry], because it's going to be something that we need to grow.”

Visualizing the Invisible

“This program that we're working on together has four key parts,” explains Loh. The first part is a 172-page book, called “Coding the Car.” The limited-edition volume, designed primarily for automotive industry insiders, “profiles the pioneers and the innovators in this space.”

Alongside the book is a companion piece that flexes MotorTrend’s considerable filmmaking muscles, in the form of a 22-minute video documentary. “We traveled all over the place to capture these individuals. The storytelling is actually very hard,” Loh says. “Conceptually, when we talk about how software is defining a vehicle — except for the infotainment system and the digital cockpit — most of what a software-defined vehicle does should be invisible. It's meant to operate seamlessly and in the background. It’s like when we talk about automotive reliability. Nobody cares about reliability until your car doesn't start.”

Loh rejects the often-used analogy that cars have become “smartphones on wheels” as a gross oversimplification that ultimately misses the point. “It falls apart when you think about what happens,” he says. “When your mobile phone bricks, you restart, no big deal. If your car bricks when you're traveling 80 miles an hour, you're going to have a problem.

“There’s a criticality here that I don’t think is appreciated by the mainstream audience. This underscores how important the storytelling that we’re doing is, as well as the awards that we’re going to be giving out.”

The awards represent the third element of the four-part joint SDV initiative. The fourth is a gala awards ceremony and party that MotorTrend will host along with BlackBerry, to celebrate the SDV industry and its leaders. The first of these annual events will take place during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in early January 2023.

Hiring the Next Generation of SDV Innovators

The pioneers and innovators celebrated in the book and documentary, and soon the awards, face numerous challenges daily, and not all are technological. During the interviews for the book and documentary, it became clear that they all share a common concern about the critical need to hire software engineers by the thousands in the years ahead. To accomplish this, they are competing for technical talent — not only against each other, but against every tech company on the planet.

Success in building this new SDV engineering workforce relies in large part on the ability of brands like MotorTrend and BlackBerry to educate software engineers about opportunities in the automotive field, and in particular, to spark their interest in software-defined transportation. This part of the job fits squarely inside MotorTrend’s wheelhouse.

“Cars are sexy,” says Loh. “It's one thing to work for a phone manufacturer or to design the latest app. But everyone has a car story. It's cool that you can be part of this transition and this revolution that's happening as vehicles go from being purely mechanical and analog to this combination of digital and mechanical.”

Unlike a phone, gadget, or app, with cars, “You can point to it as it goes down the street,” says Loh. “The new generation — the TikTok generation, the kids who've grown up with a mobile phone in their hands since they were five years old — want nothing more than to embrace this experience. And now we're bringing all these screens into the cars. The expectation is so much higher.”

As a dedicated journalist responsible for deftly guiding one of the world’s best-known and best-loved sources of automotive information, Loh and his team will face numerous challenges of their own on the road to convincing their global audience of car “hardware” aficionados to care about SDVs. But in the final analysis, there was never really a choice in the matter.

“Brands like MotorTrend have to be on the leading edge of this.”

Listen to Episode 12 of “Get In: The Software-Defined Vehicle Podcast From BlackBerry.”

You can subscribe to "Get In: The Software-Defined Vehicle Podcast from BlackBerry" at the following media services:

Podcast Transcript

Steve Kovsky:

Hi, welcome to Get In: The Connected Vehicle Podcast from BlackBerry. I'm your host, Steve Kovsky, and in this series, we'll be diving into what the future of transportation just might look like. And to help us get a better view, we've invited the head of editorial for MotorTrend magazine and the MotorTrend brand, Ed Loh. Ed, thanks for joining us today.

Ed Loh:

Thank you for having me, Steve. This is great. Super excited to chat with you about the future of automotive, cars, where we're at, and what we're doing. It's a topic I'm very passionate about.

Steve Kovsky:

We have some news that we're excited about. BlackBerry and MotorTrend have been partnering on a project that we're going to be talking about for the first time publicly on this show. And we're going to get to that in a moment, but first, we have to ask, Ed, a question that we ask of all our guests. Tell us a story about the first time you found yourself behind the wheel of a car.

Ed Loh:

I'd always been into cars. I think it's a thing that had really formed in my youth. My dad, I wouldn't call him a super car crazy guy, but he definitely liked his automobiles. I was fortunate enough to be able to have some sports cars when I was growing up. I have very fond memories of riding on the parcel shelf of my dad's first-gen Mazda RX-7, which is obviously totally illegal because it's a two-seater and there were three kids in the family, and my sister's sitting in the footwell, my brother's in the seat, and I'm sitting on the parcel shelf in the back. So, I remember that. We had a Celica GT-S, '86, Toyota Celica GT-S. That was my brother's car.

The story I love to tell is that I scored 100% on the written test for my driver's license and on the driver's test. And then six months later, I had three speeding tickets and an accident on my record, and I was subsequently kicked off the family insurance policy, much to the chagrin of my parents because we live far from town, and they were so delighted that I'd finally got my license so they didn't have to keep schlepping me around. I've been a lead foot. I've been into cars for a long time, and I managed to parlay it into a long career. I've been in automotive editorial for 20 years now, which is wild to me, at various different publications. But really, I've spent the bulk of my career at MotorTrend, chasing this dream and enjoying every second of it.

Steve Kovsky:

And you've created dreams for others to chase. I see one in the background, the MotorTrend Car of the Year Award is what that looks like back there. And that is iconic. In North America we know the MotorTrend brand, it's older than the two of us, not quite combined, but been around for a long time. There's been a lot of changes at MotorTrend in the past year, two years. Tell us a little bit about that trajectory and what MotorTrend is today as a global brand.

Ed Loh:

Great question. So yeah, MotorTrend's been around forever, 1949, actually. It was the second magazine from founder Robert Petersen, after Hot Rod. So I love telling that story. The company that's now MotorTrend Group is responsible for both the popular term Hot Rod, and this thing called MotorTrend, which is all about new cars. It's evolved tremendously over the years. We've obviously gone from magazines into the digital age, but in the last few years, we've really pivoted into video. We have a streaming service, we have a website, we have a mobile app. But really for my team on the editorial side, we are embracing this massive shift that's going on into electrification, which has been going on now for a while, but really starting to heat up. We're hitting that hockey stick moment where now all the car companies are rolling out products, and those who aren't are really struggling with how to stay relevant and spin up new product plans as quickly as possible.

Steve Kovsky:

Yeah, I'm looking at that award and the calipers, and it's very focused on the mechanical part of the car and that engineering that took the auto industry for its first 100 years and served it very well. All of those parts of the car still exist, but now the brain of the car is really taking it on entirely a new road. And we knocked on your door in thinking about the right time and said, "Hey, we want to focus on this," but we weren't the first to tackle you on this issue. And when did you really have that epiphany that things had changed radically around automobiles?

Ed Loh:

Right. It's a story I like to tell. You've heard it before. So for the audience, this will be new. It's pretty interesting. About a little less than a year ago at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, which is this big classic vintage, beautiful car show on the Monterey Bay Peninsula in Northern California. It's the foremost gathering of the collectible – vintage, beautiful vehicles. And I'm talking Duesenbergs and Talbot-Lagos – brass era, pre-war gorgeous swoopy cars, right? I get a call from the Ford PR people. And they're like, “Hey, you want to come to a small dinner with media and Ford CEO, Jim Farley?” And I was like, “Yeah, sounds good.” I've known Jim for a long time. I met him when he was an executive at Toyota launching the Scion youth brand back when I was just getting started. I have a long history with Jim and always love catching up.

I had some stuff to do, so I rolled into this dinner a little bit late, and Jim's in the middle of basically giving a very compelling lecture or a one-way talk to all the journalists, about eight or nine of us at the table. And he was talking about code. He was saying things like, "Do you know how many millions of lines of code are coming in the next F-150 Lightning, or what kind of sensor integration is required in the Mustang Mach E? And to be honest, it was a little surprising and mystifying, given the location and the event. We're in Monterey for a classic car show, and he's talking about all this really cutting-edge future stuff. But he is very fired up. He was very passionate about it. And his takeaway, the thing he was telling us was "None of you guys are talking about this. You're not telling these stories, and you should be. It's very important.”

And I was like, oh, this is interesting. And again, this was really out of place, so it stuck with me, why is he so fired up about this? I held onto that piece. And then literally eight weeks, maybe a couple of months later, you guys came knocking and we're bringing up this topic of embedded automotive software systems and software and its role within the vehicle. And what can you do? And what kind of stories can you tell about it? And in my mind, I immediately went back to that conversation I had with Jim. Initially, I was a little hesitant at first, that we were the right outlet to tell this story, right? Because we're MotorTrend, we're very consumer-facing. That award you referenced, yes, actually we started giving out in 1949, and it's always been about, for the consumer, to tell them what is the high-water mark automotive for the year.

But as I started to think about it more and do some more research, I realized how big this thing is, how massive the change is, and that we had already actually started down this road with previous winners, including when we gave Tesla Car of the Year back in 2013, and then the Chevy Bolt in 2017. And for some of these high-water electric vehicles, the actual change isn't necessarily – yes, the power train and electrification is a big deal – but the fundamental architecture is actually very different. That's the origin story, of where we're going with all this.

Steve Kovsky:

I love that story. And as the people who actually listen this podcast probably know by now, BlackBerry is very, very involved in the automotive industry and is a fundamental ingredient player in cars. And for me, it's been a journey to find out how are cars actually built? And it's not... It's not in a factory. It's in factories and workshops and labs all over the world. They come together in this rolling device, which people are expecting a lot more of than they ever did before. And when we brought this to MotorTrend and said, "Hey, we want to recognize the individuals that are making this happen," you embraced that as well, and you proposed a way to really personify this and to elevate the people behind it and look into the issues that car makers are facing. And that evolved into a business relationship with MotorTrend and something that we're very proud of, very excited to announce.

And that is a multi-year partnership with MotorTrend supporting a new award program from MotorTrend that's going to recognize those individuals. And could you talk a little bit about the mission of that and how we're going to accomplish it?

Ed Loh:

Absolutely. And you're spot on. We have a long history of giving awards, and that was probably part of the appeal in us and why you guys came to us. And we don't just do Car of the Year, we do Truck of the Year, SUV of the Year. We have a new one, Performance Vehicle of the Year. We also have an industry accolade called Power List, which results in our Person of the Year, which really profiles the movers and shakers within the automotive business. And when we started talking, the idea about not just that software-defined vehicles are happening and how much it's going to change the automotive industry, but who are the key players that are behind this? Who are the innovators? Who are the leaders? Who are leading us into this brave new world?

And it really is. I can't really underscore how big a change this is from companies, car companies, OEMs, if you will, and their tier one, tier two, whatever, all the supporting manufacturers, how they have to go from essentially analog or mechanical processes to really thinking about the digital side and the coding, and everything that goes on – on the chip, in the cloud, on the sensor side – how big a change that is. And what really struck me was, in all the editorial that we do around just the car industries, we know how to get to people. We know how. If we want to write a profile about Mary Barra or any of her executive team at General Motors, we talk to the PR guy, we go to the press site, there's an updated picture, there's a bio there. No problem, we can spit something out really quickly. 

To find the people that are leading in the software-defined vehicle space is hard. It's very hard. In fact, a lot of my normal channels, the people I talk to on the PR side or the marketing side, they don't know. They don't know who's working at their own company who is in the leadership position, or the best person, the subject matter expert that can tell them all about ADAS and how it's going to evolve into Level 2, 3, 4, 5, autonomy. They're getting better. They're getting better every day at identifying these folks, but the names, their heroic corporate photo, nowhere to be found on any of their media sites. And I was like, this sounds like a story that needs to be told, and an opportunity for us to really get out there and start talking about who these people are. And then as an adjunct to that, we should really be highlighting the real, the top tier, the real players, the folks that are making a tremendous difference.

And again, we have this experience in doing awards. How do we do that? How many? All these things we've been considering and looking around and figuring out the best way to highlight the top players within the space. And I'm really glad it's a multi-year partnership because it's going to be something we need to grow. I wouldn't say we’re in the infancy. We're at the toddler stage, I think, of this transition. And certainly key players, innovators, and leaders are in place and being defined. But in the next few years, I think it'd be really interesting to see if these folks are going to be able to make a difference, because it's a real challenge ahead.

Steve Kovsky:

It is. And there are so many aspects to this story. It's not just about technology. It's about culture. It's about global issues. It's about the ability to design things into cars that are going to save lives. That's a very personal thing for me, and I think it is for most people. Who doesn't know somebody whose life has been lost in an automobile? We're looking at a sea change in transportation, and on so many aspects. And I'm excited now reading the stories. And let's talk about some of the ways that MotorTrend’s going to deliver this. We have a book that is being written by MotorTrend journalists. They've traveled all over the world. They've uncovered these hidden individuals. And I think it's worth saying that sometimes, with some companies, the reason that it was hard to find them is they really didn't want you to find them. The competition for these people is so intense that they like to keep them under wraps

Ed Loh:

This program that we're working on together, basically has four key parts, right? And the first two of what we've been slaving over for the last few months, there's a 172-page book, a premium print product we're very proud of. It profiles the pioneers and the innovators in this space. We talked to people who laid the foundation many years ago for where we're at now, but the bulk of the profiles that we have are all about the current leadership at many of the key automotive companies, not just the companies, but a handful of key suppliers. And then alongside that, we have a companion documentary that we're working on, 22 minutes long. We traveled all over the place to capture these individuals. We were very lucky to get the time with these folks. It looks great. We're very proud of it. To what you said on the importance of the work that these folks do, the storytelling is actually very hard.

Conceptually, when we talk about how software is defining a vehicle, with the exception of the infotainment system and the digital cockpit, which is a term I've learned in talking about SDVs, all the fun stuff, and the screens and the stuff that goes on with the steering wheel and the controls, outside of those key components, most of what an SDV does should be invisible. It's meant to operate really seamlessly and in the background. It's kind of like when we talk about automotive reliability – nobody cares about reliability until your car doesn't start, right? Nobody even thinks about if these folks do their job right, especially on the safety and the EV charging side, or just stuff like whether the door handle pops out and the car opens up when you approach it, if the individuals we profile do their jobs right, nobody's ever going to notice how awesome. They will interact with and engage with these new vehicles, and it's going to be like blinking and breathing, things that just go on without you noticing it. But then there's this other element that you mentioned, which is the safety aspect of it, right?

Because the analogy is, “Oh, cars are becoming smartphones on wheels.” It's an apt analogy, but it falls apart when you think about what happens. When your mobile phone bricks, when doesn't start, okay, you restart, no big deal. If your car bricks when you're traveling 80 miles an hour, you're going to have a problem. So there's a criticality, as I like to say, about what is going on here that I don't think is appreciated, certainly not by the wider, the mainstream audience that we talk to, but it just underscores how important it is, the storytelling that we're doing, as well as the award that we are going to be giving out, and then the fourth element, which is this gala that we will be throwing with you guys to celebrate the industry and everybody who's leading within it.

Steve Kovsky:

That's going to take place at CES in January of 2023, and it's going to be the event of the year to really celebrate the people that are guiding this huge change. That’s going to affect the life of just about everybody on the planet one way or another, because another added benefit of these new drivetrains is they're going to extend the health of the planet. And so, it's just a win, win, win. And I sense, from reading some of the profiles that you've created for the book, which I'm deep into now, that these people are excited that somebody is asking them about this. They're excited to tell these stories because they have been kind of toiling unseen for a long time. And I've experienced this as a technology journalist for many, many years. When you get to the people who are behind the scenes, who never – they never have a reporter call them. They're never featured in editorial. When somebody finally notices you, they see you, it's kind of a great moment for them, and we're just beginning that.

Ed Loh:

Spot on. And what's wild is that initially, I thought we'd be seeing a lot of people who are now at big car companies or startup EV makers that are from other industries. They've come from Apple or Microsoft or Amazon or something, Netflix. And while that's true, we have a number of those folks, we've actually talked to a number of lifers. You call them lifers. They've been at certain OEMs for 20-plus years. And I think there's this trope that it's only these new tech companies, these flashy guys who kind of know what's going on, but the automotive industry is so rich and so deep in terms of talent. And again, facing – they've been dealing with critical issues like safety forever that there are folks that are very much up to speed about how this works and the impact that's going on.

And it's not as easy as saying, “Oh, the clear winners are going to be all the tech companies, that these old auto guys are just dinosaurs.” That's not the case at all. In fact, I've had several conversations with key leaders that say that what's really great about this shift that's happening is, and this is a topic covered a lot in different parts, it's touched on in almost every profile we did, is in recruiting and trying to get the talent to come work in software-defined vehicles. Those cars are sexy. Let's be honest. It's one thing to work for a phone manufacturer or to design the latest app over here, but another if you can work for a big brand that people know.

The thing I like to say is, every car has a story, and everyone has a car story, right? Especially if you live in North America, definitely states like California or New York, cars are everywhere. And you don't have to be a car person, but you'll have a car story. There was a car that took you home from the hospital when you were born, right? There was a car that you went on your first date with, or out to prom in, or something. Everybody has that deep within, embedded in their DNA, in their history. And it's cool. It's cool that you can be part of this transition and this revolution that's happening as vehicles go from being purely sort of mechanical analog to this combination of digital and mechanical.

Steve Kovsky:

I think that's an important part of telling the story of these individuals, is to hold them up, to publicize the fact that they are at the cutting edge. Designing one of these cars is not that different from designing the next generation of the space shuttle is what I'm learning from all the complexities that are going into this. To make cars do the things that we want them to do today, tomorrow, five years from now, it takes incredible skill, and it's going to require a lot of people. And I think as a software engineer, or in a technical field, you really should look at automotive. And can Facebook save lives? Can it save the planet? Well, maybe it can, but the way you're going to impact lives, as you've described, is so intimate. It's such a human experience that, if you want to have impact, you can do it here.

Ed Loh:

It's sexy. A senior leader at an unnamed car company told me, it's one thing to tell people you worked on the iPhone two or iPhone three. That's pretty cool, but iPhone 14, iPhone XR, whatever the heck that one is, versus "Hey man, I joined Toyota or VW and I helped them get their first, fully electric, fill in the blank, whatever, SUV, sports car, off the ground. I did the user experience in that," or "I help with the firmware over the air update system." And you can point to it as it goes down the street, wherever you're at, that is next level. I obviously have a bias. I love cars. I love cars more than mobile phones, but this is my perspective on it, and again why it's so exciting. Because I'll be honest, there's a lot of people, as we're at this transition point, that want to look backward and be like, "Oh, V8 engines are going away and all cars are electric. They don't make any noise."

And all the stuff that goes along with it. And I get it, there's a lot of passion and emotion around all this shared experience we've had around cars. You can have that backward-looking take on it – but you know who doesn’t? The new generation, the TikTok generation, the kids who've grown up with a mobile phone in their hands since they were five years old. They want nothing more than to embrace this experience that they get. And now we're bringing all these screens in the cars and we're bringing wireless whatever you want from, hopefully charging at some point, but over-the-air updates and all of these advances? The expectation is so much higher, and it's exciting and it should be embraced. And it really does start with, I don't want to call it the old brand. But brands like MotorTrend, we have to be on the leading edge of this.

Steve Kovsky:

I'm really excited about all the things we're doing together. What are you excited about for the next one, two years at MotorTrend? Do you think you're going to be able to get consumers to care about what's going on way, way under the hood?

Ed Loh:

That's a great question, and it's a topic of deep debate within the editorial team, on our business side as well. We know there's “FUD,” as we call it, fear, uncertainty, and doubt, right? There's a lot of FUD. You go to any forum, you look at any of these social media posts, and every time there's a new EV, there's a whole bunch of folks that are like, "Oh, I don't know. What's going on?" Caring deeply about it, I think, will come. There are several hurdles that need to happen within the minds of the consumers. And I think what's great is it is happening. It's coming. Maybe it's in fits and starts, but I like to point to some major events. For American football, NFL, we had the Super Bowl. And I remember looking at social media and seeing some hilarious comments about the commercials that ran. And people were saying, "Well, two things are really clear after watching all the Super Bowl commercials. One, cryptocurrency is apparently a thing, and two, holy moly – look at all the EVs!"

Because every single car commercial that ran was about electrified vehicles, right? And that recognition in the sort of psyche of the general consumer, we're getting it all day long now. We're getting all sorts of feedback. We get letters, like, "Oh man, I guess I’ve got to buy an EV. How do I do it?" So that part is coming. I think as EVs gain broader adoption, and we get over the hump of charging and range anxiety and this kind of stuff, people are going to start to see the other side of it, again, the stuff we talked about, the sexy, the user experience and how different it's going to be. You don't have to go to a gas station anymore. You're going to get your updates. Your car can be faster, quicker, have new features, a new camera setting, or a safety system updated overnight. You just have to go to your phone and accept the change. And a lot of this will be driven by advances in personal technology in the mobile phone, and the smart home systems.

All of this stuff is happening at the same time, and it makes the barrier, the psychological barrier, lower as you get more comfortable. I have this Apple watch now, and it could do all these different things. But there's definitely a lot of handholding that we need to do right now with the grumpy, the grumpier folks that are resistant to it. But also we're in a unique position where we can help a lot of the car makers too, because most of them get the resistance. They know it too, but they obviously have an agenda. They want to sell you a car.

MotorTrend is out here trying to tell you which car is the best one to consider, and we are evaluating all of them for not just the standard performance, 0-60 quarter mile, that kind of stuff, or how nice the leather is, but now we're going to be able to tell you, "This is what you need to consider. This is what charging looks like. This is how you should do it at home. These are some of the things you should consider if you like screens and touch screens versus some of the gesture stuff." It's huge. It occupies a huge part of my brain every day, trying to figure out how to do the storytelling around this, but the best news, I think for everybody, is that they're all coming. These vehicles are coming whether we like it or not. We're all going to get there eventually, and it's on us to make sure it's as interesting and informative and entertaining, that path, the storytelling we do around it, is the most engaging.

Steve Kovsky:

And nobody does it better. And I can't wait to read the next issue, to hold that book in my hands, to watch that documentary, and to sit around the table with you in Las Vegas in another however many months, and see MotorTrend really recognizing excellence in this field. And it's an exciting time. So, thank you so much for everything that you and your team are doing, your leadership, and allowing us to ride along with you on what is a very exciting ride.

Ed Loh:

I appreciate it. And thank you so much. Your team's been great. We've learned so much just in chatting with all the different folks on the BlackBerry side about this massive change that's going on.

Steve Kovsky:

Well, that's the end of our episode for today, but if you'd like to get more information on the topics or our guests, check out Get In, the software-defined vehicle podcast from BlackBerry, is available wherever you get your podcast. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up to date with our latest episodes.

Steve Kovsky

About Steve Kovsky

Steve Kovsky is former Editorial Director at BlackBerry.