Delivering the connected cars that consumers want

21 May 2020

21 May 2020

Connected vehicles can offer consumers an enhanced driving experience, but even with numerous features and options available, there is still a sense that the car is not a seamless aspect of a consumer’s digital life. Stéphane Lagresle, senior marketing director, connected car and connected services, Harman International, in conversation with Autovista Group’s chief research officer, Sarah Walkley, explains how this will change.

Many cars in the market today already include all the technology a driver needs. They have a big screen on the dashboard and 4G connectivity. Yet, drivers cannot get into their car and access Spotify, WhatsApp or any of the other apps that they customarily use. Therefore, the challenge for carmakers is navigating how to enable today’s connected consumer, instead of just adding technology for technology’s sake.

To put the consumer at the heart of vehicle design requires a radical shift in industry mindset, says Lagresle. Manufacturers need to rethink how they are organised and how they operate in order to address this transition. As an automotive industry supplier, Harman regularly sees great opportunity for OEMs in becoming more collaborative across departments. He believes that collaboration is key, particularly as the in-cabin experience is what is important to consumers today. ‘Ubiquitous connectivity reshuffles the cards,’ explained Lagresle. Areas that typically had no need to collaborate now work together.

Navigating structure

It is rarely efficient or effective for manufacturers to develop their own equivalent of Spotify or a restaurant review app, like The Fork. Moreover, consumers are not necessarily asking them to do so. However, they do expect their preferred restaurant app and the navigation system in their car to work in tandem to ensure they get to the restaurant in time for their booking. ‘Even further, perhaps their car can automatically WhatsApp, or mobile message, the other diners to inform them that their host will be five minutes late’ speculated Lagresle.

In this world, automakers must view cars as another digital device in order to enable seamless mobility and connectivity, not just something that moves us from point A to point B, and this inevitably requires partnering with the technology providers that consumers favour.

Personal touch

Furthermore, Lagresle observed that when you buy a new phone, the first thing you do is set the login details, download your favourite apps, change the backdrop, customise the menus etc., so it is no longer ‘just a phone’ but rather a highly personalised and distinctive device belonging to that particular individual.

‘In the future, automotive consumers may behave similarly, moving between car brands and models more fluidly, fully expecting a hyper-personalised infotainment experience with effortless access to all the apps and services they love’. At present, however, even months after you buy a new car, it is still a car; you have very few options to make changes and personalise it to how you want it.

Customisation and features on demand represent the next stage in this process of choice and personalisation. Lagresle acknowledged that this could have far-reaching consequences for used vehicles.

When asked about valuing a vehicle when what matters most is the experience rather than the car itself, Lagresle replied that establishing residual values needs to be thought through over the coming years and that partnering will be the key to meeting consumer needs and ultimately driving the highest value.

To read or download the full article ‘Putting a value on experience - Delivering the connected cars that consumers wantclick here.

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