Final Inspection

Auto's Next Hiring Boom May Not Be From Silicon Valley

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The problem, some say, is that no one wants to jump from the software industry to the auto industry. Unlike the software industry, which is capable of releasing something like a new iPhone every year, automotive has been too slow to roll out cutting-edge technology.

The current mantra around these parts is to “say nice things about Detroit,” but try telling that to an engineer in Silicon Valley.

At the second annual Autobeat Insider Conference in Dearborn, MI, the chatter among top executives in the know revolved around the frustration in attracting West Coast engineers to the Motor City.

Auto makers know drivers want to be fully connected with their cars, which means up-to-the-minute infotainment systems that effortlessly pair with MP3 players and cell phones. They want to bring in talent from the Apples and Microsofts of the world.

The problem, some say, is that no one wants to jump from the software industry to the auto industry. Unlike the software industry, which is capable of releasing something like a new iPhone every year, automotive has been too slow to roll out cutting-edge technology.

The stability of the industry is another concern to Silicon Valley engineers, which has enjoyed progress since the dot-com bust while auto makers stumbled in 2009.

Another complaint: It’s too cold in the D, weatherwise. And the metropolitan Detroit area hasn’t recovered enough to suit a Bay Area resident’s liking.

So what’s the solution for auto makers? Top brass and insiders agree that the next wave of hiring may come from the consumer-electronics industry.

Auto makers are eager to mine the talent grown in the companies behind some of technology’s still-great innovations. With energy and fuel efficiency a top priority, electronics engineers can help foster ways to include the latest tech that doesn’t drain battery life.

And they’re more open to relocation – at least more than a Silicon Valley techie, according to some.

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WardsAuto editors share insights and observations on the global auto industry.

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Dave Zoia

As Editorial Director, I oversee much of what goes into WardsAuto.com, enjoying a ringside seat that lets me observe up close just about every facet of the industry worldwide. I have covered the...

James M. Amend

James Amend is an associate editor at WardsAuto.com, covering day-to-day business and product news at General Motors. He also leads coverage of regulatory and environmental issues, as well as the...
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