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Automotively Austin: On the brink of auto technology
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You can take the car outside of Austin, but you can't take Austin out of the car.
Austin is currently known as a high-tech city but we’re also becoming an automotive city. More than 20 local companies are developing and producing cutting-edge automotive technology.
There are roughly 30 Freescale chips in the 2012 Ford Edge. They do everything from run the engine to power up the entertainment system.
"We are absolutely running your car," Freescale Semiconductor spokesman Steve Nelson said. "Airbags, stability control, collision avoidance."
Those same computer chips could also power the next generation of batteries. ActaCell spokesman Marc Kohler created and added an external battery to his Prius. The addition now allows him to get 70 miles per gallon.
"Here, we have our cathode powder. You paint it on, put it through the oven to dry and then it becomes an electrode sheet. That's what we use to cut up and stack and make the battery," Kohler said. "In actuality, this isn't too dissimilar from what's in your iPad or iPhone, but this is made specifically for the automotive market."
Kohler says almost every automotive manufacturer is working on those types of systems. The research and development happening in Austin is steering the city in the right direction.
"Currently we have 3,900 high tech companies, which accounts for 100,000 employees, which is roughly 13 percent of the local workforce so, I think that we're really well-positioned to become the hub for the auto industry's R&D and innovation," Austin Chamber of Commerce Director of Economic Development Stephen Kreher said.
Places like the University of Texas and Formula One racetrack make Austin the prime spot for attracting even more automotive companies to the area.
"The government invests in universities, work is done, Actacell or startups seek it out and we go ahead and commercialize it," Kohler said.
Automotively Austin continues Tuesday with a look at Austin's innovation. YNN’s Jess Mitchell will take a look at car-sharing's quirks and conveniences.