John Absmeier

John Absmeier
Age: 39
Title: Director, Delphi Labs @ Silicon Valley, Delphi Automotive
Big break:Asked to launch Delphi's Mountain View, Calif., technical center in 2012

The telematics industry has spawned a gold rush mentality among automakers and suppliers, which have opened a batch of r&d centers in Silicon Valley.

John Absmeier is one of those prospectors.

Last September he opened a technical center in Mountain View, Calif., to work with suppliers and customers of his employer, Delphi Automotive.

Absmeier's 15-man team focuses on infotainment and collision avoidance, two fast-growing product sectors Delphi hopes to exploit. He also evaluates technology startups for Delphi, which has earmarked $100 million to invest in such companies.

"This is the beachhead for our venture fund," Absmeier said. "We're responsible for scouting and technical due diligence, and we also form partnerships" with established companies.

Delphi's infotainment strategy is starting to take shape. At the International CES in Las Vegas, the company unveiled a concept infotainment system that showcased several voice recognition technologies.

The company also designed a digital instrument cluster that motorists can customize by using an app on their tablet or laptop.

Absmeier, a former Marine, joined Delphi in 1996 after he got a degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue University. He worked on Delphi's hybrid and fuel cell programs and spent eight years generating business in Asia.

He was recalled to the United States in 2012, when he was asked to launch Delphi's Mountain View technical center. Absmeier enjoys the culture of his new turf, where engineers and entrepreneurs race to introduce new products.

"One big advantage of Silicon Valley is that it works at a much faster pace," he said. "I sometimes say our [product development] times are moving from months to minutes."

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