NextEra leader touts power of self-disruption, predicts future will sneak up fast
Image via Florida TaxWatch

How fast will autonomous cars come?

Craig Stepien doesn’t know when electric and autonomous vehicles will take over the roads, but he says it’s coming soon.

The NextEra Energy Executive Director of Strategic Transformation told attendees gathered at the Florida TaxWatch Spring meeting about the significance of business disruption. As part of a presentation, he showed pictures of downtown New York in 1900, with just one motorized automobile amid a number of horse-and-buggies.

Then he showed a picture from 1913, where the ratio was reversed, with one carriage in a sea of cars.

“What do you think? Do you think a transformation in the automotive industry will be longer or faster?” Stepien said.

He suggested that the new change would be much quicker in the end, though not everyone on the panel agreed.

“Infrastructure is built,” said former state Sen. Kelli Stargel. “It’s a change in management.”

The Lakeland Republican suggested that layers of government bureaucracy would slow any transition.

But Stepien argued that the change will be much faster because the cost for consumers, especially as more decide they don’t want to even own their own car, overtakes the market. He noted that the average American spends less than 5% of their life in their car. That’s the second-largest financial investment they make, behind homes.

Stepien, of course, arguably can embrace change faster than most. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he sold his car and home, and then took his family on a tour of 40 states.

“It was phenomenal. So really if you want to talk about self-disruption, going from 4,000 square feet to 300 square feet, that will do it,” he said.

He discussed a variety of theories about what changes are coming, from recounting how Netflix changed television to discussing how innovation at companies like Apple and Nvidia disrupted the U.S. markets. He touted the Bitcoin revolution that treats money as technology.

And of course, he discussed how this all will affect power companies like FPL, a NextEra subsidy. He noted that his company bet on solar and wind power early, knowing eventually those power sources will dominate. Electric cars, he said, will require electric power and better infrastructure.

“We as a company say we got to always have our eye open to whatever technology is changing,” he said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    April 12, 2024 at 10:56 am

    How fast will autonomous cars come?

    Not as fast as Rhonda!

Comments are closed.


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