In the connected car space, if you want a good quote, you can always get one from Roger C. Lanctot, Director, Automotive Connected Mobility, Global Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics. He’s smart, knows the business and always has something brilliant to say. He traverses the automotive universe, speaking at conferences and to automakers hoping to “change the automotive industry for the better.” Auto Futures talked to Lanctot to reveal his philosophy and predictions for the future.

Although many industry analysts are car enthusiasts who race at the track or own fancy sports cars, Lanctot says he’s more of a pragmatist. “I am not a car enthusiast, I’m car tolerant.”

Lanctot graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in English and then worked at community newspapers as a local reporter. He later did research and development for technology and telematic research firms and the Consumer Technology Association. He is an avid fan of the written word and he reads two newspapers a day. It is the social and economic aspects of cars that interest him.

“Cars are ubiquitous. We are car-obsessed and cars affect everything we do. Our nation was built on cars and cars affect the future of our country,” says Lanctot. He gives the example of the financial crisis. When it looked like the three big auto manufacturers were in danger it would have a collateral effect on the entire economy if any of them crumbled.  

He says cars are something that people all have to come to terms with. 

“We’re on an evolutionary path to something different in transportation. But we’re still doing cars and it is still hard to get by without cars unless you’re living in an urban setting with public transportation,” says Lanctot.

Connectivity Will Save Lives

Lanctot is concerned about the harm caused by cars. He calls it a “sad reality” that cars kill people and hurt people through emissions and crashes. He is aware of the dark underside of the industry of fatalities. Most people know someone who has been injured in a car crash. Connectivity could be a viable solution.

“The biggest challenge coming to the automotive industry is connectivity which is unnatural to them,” said Lanctot. He explains that automakers are driven by an individuality experience with the car as a vessel that is a refuge and it is almost antithetical to them to be connected.

“All cars need to be connected for safety reasons, software integrity, recalls and cybersecurity of vehicles,” states Lanctot. “5G will enable vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-grid communication. It’s something automakers have to do.”

What drivers don’t understand is that connectivity for the automakers is about customer retention. Lanctot believes that connectivity should be free and built into the cost of the vehicle. Consumers won’t buy services if they can get the same thing on their smartphone. He notes that the stage is set for 5G to connect to infrastructure this will help prevent crashes.

The future of cars, however, he believes is about prying people out of individual cars and getting them into shared transportation solutions.

“The bottom line is that cities and governments can’t continue to move individuals in vehicles they have to find a way to get more people in cars.” He asks: “How do we make them shared? How do you make it attractive and what amenities can you put in the cars in the future?

Lanctot can be blunt at times and he has gotten pushback and even been blackballed.

“I am sincere. I am a passionate and I may be tough on the automotive industry but I desire to see changes embraced rapidly,” he says. “They may be off put by my tone but they recognize that I have the best interest of the industry at heart.” He says he has been supported by his employers and event organizers.

The car that Lanctot would like to own is the Tesla S, which he says would be out of his price range unless he had a long-term no-interest loan. He would like to own one because “it breaks with tradition.” There are Tesla S models on the road that have over 400,000 miles on them. He likes the connectivity, the software updates and traffic in the infotainment system. Tesla is not just about the car lasting three or four years at a time. He says Tesla has created a new paradigm.

“We’re on the cusp of a new love affair with electric vehicles. It’s an untapped vein of new enthusiasm for vehicles. Tesla is just a hint of what awaits,” muses Lanctot. He sees electric vehicles as coming of age in the future.