7 Companies that are Disrupting the Future of the Auto Industry

Digital Disruptors: How Connected Cars Are Creating Pull for Innovation


©2015 Friendsurance

©2015 Friendsurance


What it is: A peer-to-peer ‘social insurance’ company based in Germany that invites customers to opt in to a group policy which is shared between friends.

How it works:  Each group policy includes a pool of money, fed by a percentage of each member’s premium, which can be used to pay out small claims. If, at the end of the year, there is money left in the pool, everyone gets their share of the remainder back.

Why it's disruptive: Part of the premiums still go to regular insurance, but the idea of money back each year underwritten by the desire to do right by your friends is an unconventional and attractive value add—especially for people who see in their cultural identity collaboration, community and “pay only for what you use”. In 2013, roughly 90 percent of users who took advantage of the peer-to-peer-insurance model were repaid contributions.  


©2015 Metromile

©2015 Metromile

What it is: Metromile is a car insurance company that offers customers a deal—they put a sensor in their car which tracks their driving habits and pay an lower insurance premium that is tailored specifically to their vehicle use.

How it works: Customers pay only for the amount of coverage they actually need, and Metromile gets detailed information which helps to protect themselves from risk.

Why it's disruptive: Other car insurance companies have used in-vehicle sensors to offer discounts for safe driving behavior, but Metromile is the first to incorporate little data in an on-demand model of insurance where customers who drive less pay less—by the mile.



©2015 Automatic

©2015 Automatic

What it is: A platform and software development kit enabling others to create value around elements of users' transportation information.

How it works: Automatic collects data a connected car device that plugs into standard on-board diagnostic ports available on almost all vehicles manufactured since 1996. Developers can then use this vehicle diagnostic and driving information to build apps using Automatic's API.

Why it's disruptive: Access to vehicle driving info by third-party developers is jump-starting innovation in areas that are otherwise too technically or logistically complex to approach as a meager startup. One company building on top Automatic's platform is Mooch, whose service allows you to automatically charge your friends for your driving time. Users can defray the cost of giving others rides without having to deal with the annoyance (and social awkwardness) of asking for money. 


Google Car

©2015 Google

©2015 Google

What it is: Google designed and built driverless cars.

How it works: Google’s ambitious effort to automate existing vehicles, working on the ‘worldview’ of the automated car’s artificial intelligence and algorithms, segued into a public search for automaker partners. Finding none, Google announced its plans to design and build its own ‘driverless cars’ more reminiscent of transportation pods than the cars of today.

Why it's disruptive: Google’s willingness to experiment with every fundamental premise of the car experience is serving as a fierce and often unwelcome catalyst for existing industry players who are either adapting (as with the recent surge in connected car features and early collaborations) or resisting change (the sometimes-uneasy partnerships with Silicon Valley disruptors or attempts to create standalone, car-brand-specific ‘app stores’ to compete with Apple and Google’s clear dominance of mobile app marketplaces).


©2014 Waze and Apple

©2014 Waze and Apple

What it is: A navigation app with a social focus. 

How it works: Waze connects users on its network with each other in real time to help them avoid traffic delays and report traffic accidents, police, and road hazards.

Why it's disruptive: Waze was designed specifically to help people avoid traffic delays. This difference in paradigm led designers to implement warnings of vehicles stalled on the roadside or blocking a lane, requiring connecting drivers into a rich, user-augmented web that combined both artificial intelligence-backed routes and human instantaneous edits in the same system.


©2015 Getaround

©2015 Getaround

What it is: Getaround.com allows individuals to easily enter their cars into de facto rental or carsharing arrangements with strangers.

How it works: Getaround users list their own vehicles on the site, much as Airbnb hosts list their apartments, and set a price. Getaround brokers the interaction with the other set of users on its platform, drivers. 

Why it's disruptive: By providing scheduling, insurance guarantees, long-term city parking relationships, payment management and other features which require economies of scale, Getaround makes the comparatively-risky prospect of sharing an expensive vehicle much more palatable to all parties.


©2015 Uber

©2015 Uber

What it is: Uber allows riders to request a ride in cars of varying sizes and levels of luxury (and drivers with or without formal commercial licensure)

How it works: Open the app and in a few taps request a ride. For drivers, Uber offers a flexible work schedule and secure and hassle-free means of receiving payment for rides.

Why it's disruptive: Uber’s increasingly-broad reach allows everyday drivers to pass some rudimentary checks and nearly-instantly start offering their services professionally, converting underutilized family sedans (and a veritable army of Toyota Priuses) into a responsive supply of just-in-time “UberX” rides. But these non-commercial-licensed drivers eat into established taxi franchises, partly by not having to pay for higher licensure standards and formal training. This kind of encroachment into protected territory has parallels throughout the transportation and car industries, as private alternatives to public systems and radical disruption of traditional car business models are forcing established firms to take notice.

Excerpted from Causeit's article, Digital Platforms for Automobility

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