Automotive Trends at TEDxDetroit

By: Shawna Ramsey, Isobar US Account Manager


Innovative turns from the automotive industry made a strong appearance at TEDxDetroit this year. We are ushering in a new era for vehicle development. Two men who graced the TEDxDetroit stage, Jeff Owens of Delphi and Adam Genai of Mob Steel, shared their unique perspectives on the current landscape.

Jeff Owens – Chief Technology Officer

From the beginning, Jeff made it clear to the TEDxDetroit audience that his thought process was a bit different. As an engineer, Jeff tends to see things in equations and angles. His passion resides in the opportunity to experience cutting-edge, technically challenging projects. As a co-op student at Kettering University, Jeff was asked to supply his top three choices of projects that he wanted to work on. He wasn’t selected for any of his top choices, but he was tapped to work on the team that put the first computer into a car.

Years later, Jeff landed on a radar for cars project with the first demonstration taking place on a Cadillac cruising the streets of Detroit. Radar was a true game changer in the auto industry, helping to make cars safer. In the late 90’s, this breakthrough technology officially rolled out on a production vehicle. This accomplishment was the first stepping stone on the journey to autonomous driving. Jeff’s company, Delphi, continued to push technology limits by challenging a young group of engineers to develop a self-driving car, Roadrunner, in just 10 short months. In the spring of 2015, Roadrunner made history by completing a coast to coast trip – 3,400 miles. The vehicle navigated through tricky conditions while making humanlike decisions with ease. Jeff asserted with confidence that soon no one will be hurt by a car or in a car. This momentous achievement will all be tracked back to the first computer in a car, the first radar in a car and the first automated drive across the country.

Adam Genai – Custom Car Builder

Mob Steel started creating custom vintage vehicles in the midst of an economic downturn. When Detroit Steel Wheel Company (an off-shoot of Mob Steel) was started, Adam Genai and his employees faced challenges like a lack of adequate machinery and source informants that had either retired or passed away. It took three years for Detroit Steel Wheel Company to generate their first steel wheel from manufacturing steps developed from scratch. Adam’s skilled trades’ message pointed to a simple formula: learn to do something with your hands or mind and then work very hard – Something that is very core to the way we do things at Isobar and, therefore, truly resonated. He ventured that if you take this dogged approach, as well as invest in the automotive industry, then accomplishment is guaranteed to follow.

Detroit has become an important proving ground for a transportation transformation. It’s evident in vehicle technology firsts and the re-imagination of iconic vehicles with custom steel wheels. Inspiration, technology and determination continue to steer Detroit into the future.