Padmasree Warrior: She’s Driving the Future of Autonomous Cars

April 4 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Equal to the Task

Here’s a story that will let the air out of your tires: Henry Ford—you know, the Ford guy—shook things up by hiring women to work at his Phoenix Mill plant in Michigan in the early 1900s. Pretty cool, right? But here’s the catch: Women’s employment eligibility at Ford was based on their marital status, with Ford only hiring widows and single ladies. Why? He considered the gig to be a temporary one for women because he was adamant that a woman’s real job in life was to “get married, have a home and raise a family.” While Ford did pay his female workers the same as men, it was solely so they could dress attractively and afford to get married.


If you’re a fan of car racing, you’re probably familiar with grid girls, those scantily clad ladies seemingly tasked with little else than looking sexy on the sidelines of some of the most prominent racing events. Thankfully, the preeminent racing organization in the world is finally taking a stand against such misogyny. Formula 1, which has employed grid girls for decades, announced that beginning with its 2018 season, it will no longer use grid girls, citing that the custom no longer resonates with F1’s values or modern societal norms. As one car-industry publication noted, it’s “about freaking time!”

WOMAN TO WATCH: Padmasree Warrior, CEO of NIO U.S.

Today’s Woman to Watch, Padmasree Warrior, is also commanding change in the contemporary auto biz. She’s the CEO of NIO U.S., which is driven by the vision to bring autonomous vehicles to the American market by 2020.

This dynamic CEO, who has a leadership history with innovative brands like Spotify, Microsoft and Cisco, has masterfully earned her rank as one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. And now, she’s employing that mastery to change the way Americans view our daily commutes.

Dubbed “the autonomous car of the future,” NIO’s Eve concept vehicle is a super-smart, highly communicative, immaculately designed car unlike any other. But this is hardly NIO’s first success in the automotive realm.

In 2016, NIO wowed the world when its electric supercar, the NIO EP9, broke lap records at major racing tracks around the world, becoming the fastest electric car on the planet. And NIO has competed in the Formula E Championship, which only runs electric-powered vehicles, since the series was established in 2014, even securing the Formula E Drivers’ Championship in summer 2015. Since then, NIO has attained a permit in California to test its NIO EVE on public roads.

Americans spend more than 290 hours a year commuting via car. Imagine the convenience of your self-driving NIO Eve getting you home from the office while you focus on other tasks, like answering emails or discovering star constellations through Eve’s glass-roof interface—all while kicking back in the spacious and flexible seating environment.

Padmasree notes something even more significant to the emergence of this one-of-a-kind vehicle: safety. She calls today’s cars an “epidemic,” citing more than 37,000 deaths on the road each year in the U.S., all because distractions and inexperienced driving produce devastating results. It’s Padmasree’s hope that the autonomous vehicle is the solution to this problem.

Thanks, Padmasree, for leading the way in bringing the safest, smartest and most remarkable car of the future to our modern lives. We can’t wait to see where you drive innovation next!


With Padmasree Warrior and NIO in mind, today’s quote comes from the co-founder of fashion-tech company Poshmark, Tracy Sun, who said:

“Love what you do and do what you love. Doing something new and different requires a level of drive and passion that is really hard to fake. When your heart is behind what you are doing, so much is possible.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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