From CTO to queen of the electric car biz — Padmasree Warrior’s startup shiftSindhu Kashyap
“The car as we know it is going to change. Till date, the kind of transformation we have seen in the car space has either been in the mechanics or hydraulic systems,” said Padmasree Warrior, CEO of US for NextEV, and NIO, at the TiE Global Summit.
Lauded as the ‘Queen of the Electric Car Biz’, Padmasree has been the former CTO of Cisco and Motorola. Her plunge into the electric vehicle and startup space happened out of her personal experience.
Sitting and doing nothing
Commuting to work in Palo Alto from San Jose, where she lives, wastes at least half an hour one way. “You're just sitting in your car in traffic, waiting and doing nothing,” said Padmasree.
Globally, people waste 130 billion minutes a year in their cars. Not only does this lead to a loss in productivity but also causes a lot of health issues, data has shown.
Also, the amount of pollution cars cause is simply mind-boggling. An electric vehicle changes all of that.
A more distracted world
“Mobility is something everyone aspires to. It defines freedom. And a car is an aspirational product. In India and China, people are willing to spend more than they earn to own a car,” said Padmasree.
But the problem is that we, as people, are getting more distracted with each passing minute. And more so when we drive. Padmasree herself has been at the receiving end of such distractions.
She has been hit from behind at traffic signals. “And that's because the person driving at the back was distracted on his mobile,” she added.
Moving away from the old
The car industry is over 100 years old but little is being done to bring it in tune with the way we operate today. Padmasree said,
“We have phones that cost a few thousand Indian rupees that know you more than a car that costs a few lakhs. I find that just plain wrong.”
Technology, she noted, has seen a transformation in this decade with respect to the mobile phone and the internet. The next set of changes, Padmasree believes, needs to be in the mobility space.
Electric vehicles ensure that you use batteries, eliminating the need for fuel, thereby reducing pollution. And with intelligent and smart vehicular systems, even if the driver is distracted, the vehicle can sense danger and prevent an accident from happening. Padmasree said,
“There is a lot that can be done with smart electric vehicles. It is about leveraging the disruption that the mobile and internet have brought into the automobile industry.”