Trying to Catch Tesla, Travel Expectations Up, & Amazon Robots

June 22, 2022
We are winding down our time at the VADA convention and have been enamored by the energy and conversations here. Less than 2 weeks from now tickets for ASOTU CON will go on sale, but for now: the news. GM and Ford are racing to the top to take over Tesla, July 4th weekend looks like it will be a record for car travel, and Amazon has implemented their first full autonomous robot to hold down the warehouse floor.
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The Race for 2030, or is it the race for Tesla?

  • Ford’s approach: fewer, more intentional (and innovative, in their words) models
  • GM’s approach: wide range of EVs across the price spectrum.
  • A Ford spokesman said that “Customers are smart, and we trust them to discern true innovation versus future hype,” and that “We are happy to leave the old-school approach of flooding the zone with 10 mildly different mid-size SUVs to others.”
  • I thought, ‘Well, if the buses go electric, then the F-150 is going to go,’ Jim Farley said.
  • Take Away: After having learned the legislative side of things this week, we know that demand and production are not on level playing fields with each other from a consumer or political standpoint.

Record travel expected for July 4th weekend

  • 42 Million people expected to hit the road for the holiday weekend
  • All airlines still expecting record travel this summer
  • Airline cancellations and troubles have been pushing more people to drive
  • Despite rising gas costs, Americans are still using disposable income for experience based travel
  • Take Away: If you haven’t started advertising Summer Travel Service Specials…..

Amazon introduces its first ever fully autonomous mobile warehouse robot, Proteus

  • Designed to move large racks, these robots will share the floor w humans as opposed to previous robots who operated in their own caged areas
  • The robots robots have “advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology,”
  • Also showed off a new scanning tech for warehouse workers leveraging their “just walk out” tech featured in Amazon brick and mortar stores that allows workers to simply move packages from one place to another without scanning them
  • Take Away: Necessity is the mother of invention


Kyle Mountsier, Paul Daly

Paul Daly  00:31

Hey, it's Wednesday, June 22. Kinda a little sad. We're gonna kiss Asheville, North Carolina goodbye. As we're talking about a Tesla in 2030 Travel expectations for Fourth of July, and Amazon robots. The people really don't know who it is and who it they started. Amazon robots. It's always a good way to end you knew it was coming.

Kyle Mountsier  00:54

You knew it was coming one of these days.

Paul Daly  00:56

I didn't expect them to be childcare robots. They're not childcare robots.

Kyle Mountsier  01:02

They actually just take care of all the workers right? That's the whole No, no,

Paul Daly  01:05

we'll talk about that later. We haven't gotten to what it was the company and Wally b&h BNL Yeah, right. Yeah, that that is Amazon.

Kyle Mountsier  01:13

That's basically all right. We so we're wrapping up a few days of being with Virginia auto dealers. We got to overlap a little bit with the Kentucky autarky auto

Paul Daly  01:24

dealers 820 Biscuits this week.

Kyle Mountsier  01:28

We're here at breakfast. We're no we're at. We're at lunch,

Paul Daly  01:32

any meal, any meal, any meal,

Kyle Mountsier  01:34

Paul's family, you know, they're from up north Syracuse, right? And they're like, We haven't seen a bagel all week. But all of the biscuits are amazing. I like Welcome to the south. We

Paul Daly  01:44

were flips, right? It was lunchtime, and the bread service was biscuits, biscuits for breakfast, and hear biscuits for lunch. I was like, I've probably I've never eaten so many biscuits and cars like, welcome to the south, south. It's just how it works.

Kyle Mountsier  01:57

Actually, actually, your son was like, this biscuit is a little flaky and dry. And I was like, that's the whole point. And I'm looking He's like, he's like, No, I put the I put the gravy on it. And I'm trying to like find the gravy. And if you're from the south, you know that if you have this, if you can see the biscuit and you can see the biscuit you've done it wrong.

Paul Daly  02:16

The only biscuits he's had probably came out of like a steam table that a KFC somewhere. Yeah, that's great. But all that being said, we had an amazing time spending a few days, which feels like more than just a few days, right? Just a lot of a great time with the Virginia auto dealers overlapping a little bit with some Kentucky auto dealers in the same venue. And it really has been for us a little bit of a wake up call in the sense that, that the environment is different when you have pretty much all dealers right in the room versus the typical mix of dealers and industry partners. And we'll talk about that a little bit on Friday, I think. But it just gets our wheels turning, it gets the conversations going. And it reminds us how important the work that we're doing is not to say like, Hey, we're doing important work. But for us,

Kyle Mountsier  03:02

the most important it is the most important work and what what I love and we were talking about this this morning, as we were getting the show ready was just that our eyes have just been opened to another part of the reality of our industry. And there are so many different intricacies and we talked about how there's so many different ways to do business, so many different ways to you know, perceive the automotive industry and this has just been a recontextualization for us of another portion of our industry that is doing incredible work and I mean amazing dealers, we're, we're we're at the kind of like wrap up party to the event last night and just looking at all of the families in the legacy and the kids are enjoying themselves and and that's just a really unique part of our industry that is so familiar and so, like, ingrained into the culture of every dealership is that fan you know, you see Christmas parties across the country

Paul Daly  03:52

always, you know, always the one thing that really got me last night is I'm watching like 100 kids on the dance floor. And all of their parents are out there and you know, everyone's and realizing that like tomorrow, they'll all be fierce competitors. Yes. And Liza borsch is one of our investors and Chairman now of the Virginia Auto Dealers Association. She received the mantle yesterday. She said to me, I have memories when I was their age, and were looking like five year olds when I was their age, dancing on the dance floor at the Virginia Auto Dealers Association. And so it really was just I think a testament to the industry and society the industry nobody sees right and and are not enough people see not enough people see and I think the more we tell even that story, not just the story of how we're solving the customer experience but how the the the growth and the legacy and the way that families work. Well,

Kyle Mountsier  04:45

I'll tell you one place where we're going to tell that story a lot. Is a so do con and heard about this thing. We've been talking about it a lot. We're building the energy we know that there's from a lot of our crew if you're listening to podcast watching you probably know that it's coming And you're anxious and excited about it. So we've set a date for ticket sales to go live. Now this will be ticket sales to the closest to chess, the ones that have registered at a soda We're going live on July 5, so tickets will be for sale. It'll be a very limited amount to industry partners, and then dealer tickets will be available. Paul, we've we've decided on the ticket price for dealers. Yeah, it's only 399.

Paul Daly  05:29

I didn't realize we haven't talked about that. We haven't talked about planning that for a while. Right. And we've liked it. But yeah, $399 for a dealer ticket, which is probably half of what any similar event costs, right? If there was ever a similar event, it's um, you can I don't know if there's gonna ever been event that is similar. So six meals, your whole foods, including

Kyle Mountsier  05:49

all two days of content, I mean, it's just going to be a way to get in be there be available entertainment,

Paul Daly  05:54

Monday night, all the entertainment, it's going to be so it really is. So pre register at a show to A so to If you're an industry partner, we have really limited tickets, so the only ones that are going to be able to have the opportunity to buy a ticket will be on that list. If your dealer you can be first to know, you know, you can register, we have a lot of more dealer tickets available just by nature of the event. And, man, the team has been working in the background. So even though like we're just talking about these things, Monday, there are a lot of pieces falling into place. And we're just about to the point where we can open this thing up. And I mean, obviously we're excited about it. We're excited to see you meet you and get the asoto community together.

Kyle Mountsier  06:30

Yes. All right, we gotta get into this stuff for today. Our first story and this is really interesting, because actually, a few news sources have covered this, the last two days outside of the automotive industry. So my first perception is that the the the general news public is paying keen attention to what Automotive is doing right now, because of the push toward Evie the push toward hybrid. And understanding that there is this competitive matrix that is all new in our industry. And that's the one that kind of has its eye on Tesla, right? Volkswagen has been very vocal that they're going after Tesla. And now, just recently, GM and Ford have kind of like put themselves as as the fiercest of competitors in the race to beat Tesla in the Eevee. Race for volume. Well, what the what these articles are kind of coming out and bringing to the forefront is that there's two different approaches to the way that GM and Ford are going about this race. And, and the difference in approach is, is that Ford is going at it with a fewer volume of volume of types of models with different models, right. And they're going to their goal is to be in their words more innovative and intentional about the products that they come out with. Whereas GM is going kind of like this full scale approach. And to give you a lot of options, tons of options across the price spectrum, low high price, all of that. And both of them believe that that will help them.

Paul Daly  08:09

Right. Yeah. Well, it's never been easier thinking of like from GMs perspective, it's never been easier to like, just take a single power train platform, and then just build on it. Right, right. Because a lot of the technology is just the same. Like, here's your base. It's like Legos, right? Yeah, here's the base, and then just build really interesting. So I mean, you think that would be a strategy that'd be easier to deploy than ever. But, right, but everybody on the Ford side, everyone talks about the ease of buying a Tesla. Yeah. Right. Because because there are so few options. It makes it easier to buy.

Kyle Mountsier  08:41

You know what's interesting? Well, I'll kind of like give this comparison with Apple, right? Initially, they had one or two phone models. That's all you could get. Right? Right. And they've moved now eight or nine years later from like, when they were really starting to press into the market in the early like 2010 2011, which was about five or six years after the iPhone released. And now they've gone with like a multi layered approach, not just storage, right, right. It's like different price points. different screen sizes. Yes. Yeah, exactly. So, you know, it's got more complicated, I have a feeling that maybe less complicated initially. And more complicated as you grow is a really strong trajectory to follow. So it's got

Paul Daly  09:24

a feeling that Apple happens to know what they're doing.

Kyle Mountsier  09:28

Well, I this this was the interesting quote from me from the article, Jim Farley, who has been in the automotive industry news a lot recently because of his comments about how Ford is going to go. Yeah, he's up front, right in 2017 was running Europe's operations for Ford. So if you think about that, like, you kind of understand that. Yeah, he was Europe. Well, at least at least running the operations out there for it. So spent a lot of time out there. So now you think about like the comments that he's making now in 2022, and the relationship to how Europe has kind of advanced in this agency. Well, his comment back then was, well, if anything, if if we all go electric, then the F 150 is going to have to go. But now in 2022 and this just in 2017. Yeah, that's his hindsight. He's saying he said like, that was my thought back then. Well, now in 2022, the first the first one to come out, it's so

Paul Daly  10:25

interesting was the first DVD that they Well, it's the first pickup truck right come out. And like, obviously, they have tons of reservations, and people are raving about it. Right? That's just five years. Think of how much the technology advanced, that they realized it was possible. I wonder how like Tesla's announcement of the cybertruck Showing them like, look what we can do. Right, right. Look what we can pull, look at what we might do. Right, right. Or we would look at what is possible. Yep. Wow, that is so interesting. Interesting.

Kyle Mountsier  10:53

Well, I think so my takeaway is actually in context from VA DEA on this is just that, you know, leveling the playing field on demand and production right now is not just an internal combustion, or, or a current vehicle gasoline vehicle issue, it's actually an issue that everyone's being presented with. Because if we're all racing for the top title of EB production, it also means that we have to produce those vehicles and these meet, these companies have to be able to provide what the customer demand is. And so I think that it's a healthy level of competition, because it's going to provide the ability to meet the potential demand that the consumers are saying they're asking for. So

Paul Daly  11:32

here's what I like about this whole story. We have GM and Ford, two major players taking two very different approaches. Yeah, but both of them happen to be within the circle of franchise retail automotive. There you go. So like, I feel like it's a win across the board. If it's this one, if it's that one, if it's somewhere in between franchise, retail auto dealers, putting a good foot forward with product. Yes. So that's exciting.

Kyle Mountsier  11:54

Well, speaking of wins, segue

Paul Daly  11:58

to tie this one in

Kyle Mountsier  12:00

speaking of wins, I have a perception that service departments are going to come out swinging at the end of June, beginning in July, like they are going to be covered up I'm guessing if you're in the marketing spectrum, or if you're in the service department, you're already seeing an acceleration of appointments, attention on can I get into service, because it seems like triple AAA does a massive amount of surveying of like, what travel is going to look like. And they are expecting record road travel.

Paul Daly  12:34

I fit let's I feel like I hear that every every year. But maybe it was just more people traveling last year. Yeah.

Kyle Mountsier  12:40

But what they're saying is that is that because of a lot of the issues with like airline travel, that people are really out there are going to be traveling just to drive Exactly.

Paul Daly  12:51

It's funny. I talked to several people here at the VA did they were like they drove like 11 hours, nine hours, right? They're just like, oh, we just decided to drive. Wow, that's like real time proof. Yeah, too far for me, too.

Kyle Mountsier  13:04

So the the percentage of people from 2019 to now that are going to be driving greater than 50 miles to July 4 plans is up 4%. And it might not seem like a lot. But when that many more people are driving that much longer distances, there's just going to be a lot of road travel. And so I mean, you got a service department, you've got an opportunity to make sure that people know that you're available and ready for them. And figuring out how to service of higher volume of customers is definitely going to be something that like heading over the next two weeks, you're going to have to have a high attention to how customers are interacting with you. And

Paul Daly  13:43

we've talked a lot about the cultural indicators, and how we deploy them inside dealerships. And this is just one, the cultural indicator says that people are ready to drive further. They're ready to travel more. So that's in their mind. So when you put marketing messages in front of them, of what they're already thinking, it's instant empathy, right? It's instant empathy, and then it just makes them lean towards you. Right show people themselves. People want to see themselves in the marketing and advertising. The indicators, AAA is telling us more people are doing this. Well talk about that. Yeah, talk about that. All right. Speaking of though, hold on, hold on. Just stop. Stop. Okay, Amazon announced its first fully autonomous robot put it up on the screen. This is playing. I played this in 2x speed. But this this, what's the name of this thing Proteus Proteus sounds like a mix between like a Roman guard. And like the ES and then short circuit somewhere prototype radius. So this is their first fully autonomous robot. Other robots it's been using in its warehouse have actually operated in their own section, right. It's like a caged area where the robots do their thing, and the humans do their thing. thing, this is the first one that's able to co mingle with humans. And it's basically designed to slide underneath, if you imagine like a seven foot, you know, cart that holds a bunch of boxes, it slides underneath it, it picks it up, and it drives it somewhere else. And so in the video that if you're watching live stream you saw, but if you're listening, you just see these little things totally looking like they're out of Star Wars or something, just, you know, tooling their way around the warehouse stopping when they see a person picking up a cart, bringing it somewhere else. And they say this is going to solve a lot of the employee issues, right? So not not just like the tension, obviously, they've been in the news a lot, you know, workplace conditions and things like that. But they're less people to hire, especially if there's less people to hire. And also, like you think about just the time to move around, right? And what, like taking those carts different places, right? The time to go from like one end of the warehouse to the other end, yeah, removes time where you can be physically filling bins and things like that. That's Amazon's real thing. They they pioneer, the tech or the menu, or the warehouse process, where instead of people going to find the stuff, they actually bring the stuff to the Packers. Right, right. So the carts in the shelves and all that come to the people, which is kind of cool, but it doesn't help you with your steps.

Kyle Mountsier  16:14

Yeah, I know, I know, a lot of Amazon workers that like worked, either worked or are working for Amazon. And it's like, they've got the best shoes and they're like, I get my 10,000 Every day,

Paul Daly  16:25

well, there goes that the robots are not going to get there 10,000 steps, they also deployed, or they also talked about the same this, you know, the just walk out technology that they developed for their stores, you know, where you can go into, like, grab something off the shelf and just leave. They're not deploying that in the warehouse, where as workers move packages, like from a cart to a table or whatever, it just automatically knows what's happening. Wow, that's nuts. That's pretty cool.

Kyle Mountsier  16:47

That's pretty wild. I mean, you know, inventory management at scale is an important thing. So I can imagine that that helps. I do love, like, there's an element of that there's an element to anything that goes robotics, that's a little bit scary from a worker workforce perspective. But it seems like there's there's an easing and an like, what I hope it does is allow them to free up their workers to be better in certain areas, right, where robots can support and lift up and support by, by technology, that people in the process that is still needs people, right, keep the

Paul Daly  17:23

human element exactly alive and well. And I think it'd be really tough to find support. Like there's no one with picket signs, like don't give robots our jobs because if you've gone anywhere or bought anything you understand the level of service, the level of availability is significantly depleted. So having some robots moving, you know, carts around when we can have that human doing something more humanly meaningful for the rest of the economy, I think I think is a win.

Kyle Mountsier  17:49

Yeah, definitely is a win. So I don't know.

Paul Daly  17:51

I think that's it for today. The sunrise you can probably if you've been watching, you see it coming up behind this beautiful here in the mountains of Asheville. It's been really fun to come to you on location, spending some time with some dealers. We hope we brought you a little bit of perspective with our time here. A little perspective and your date cue the music, because we're about to head into a little family time. You're excited about that. We got some great content coming for you today. Interview big interview coming tomorrow with Mike Stan and Liza Borchers. We're excited to share. Keep going