Customer experience on four wheels
Electromobility and autonomous driving are driving the transformation in the automotive industry. While electric drive is slowly gaining momentum, it will still take time before driverless travel in passenger cars also becomes accessible to the masses.
But there are other issues that are shaping the industry and whose impact we are already feeling. The car is transforming into a technology platform for data-driven applications.
It is no longer just engineers who are responsible for innovations in vehicles, but increasingly also software developers. The automotive industry is now hiring large numbers of software experts.
Software technology makes many things possible: A growing number of sensors provide measured values from inside the vehicle as well as its surroundings in order to increase the vehicle's performance and improve safety for its occupants.
Comfort is provided by auxiliary systems for parking and the digital personal assistant in the cockpit. Software-supported telematics can be used to calculate insurance premiums based on the driver's behavior.
Automakers alone will not be able to cope with these developments. In our view, it will be very important to enter into cooperative ventures with the software industry, for example.
The classic car manufacturers have to defend themselves against newcomers à la Tesla from their sector and at the same time against the IT industry itself, which wants to win the automobile for its own software technology.
Who will play which role - cooperation partner or opponent - has not yet been decided, but the race for dominance in the connected car is in full swing.
Of course, the customers, i.e. the drivers, are also players in this game. After all, they have to like the new services that the industry comes up with.
What drivers expect from the Connected Car and which developments car manufacturers and their suppliers are dealing with was the subject of an extensive study conducted by NTT Group in cooperation with the analyst and consulting firm Teknowlogy (PAC).
More than 3,000 vehicle owners in Europe and 20 experts from the automotive and IT industries as well as the insurance industry and the public sector were surveyed (the study is available free of charge at www.connectedcarstudy.com).
According to the study, the car is becoming (literally) a mobile device. Accordingly, the expectations of users, i.e. drivers, are high. The desire for services in the vehicle is particularly pronounced among the younger generation.
In addition to technical features such as horsepower, acceleration and cornering, they attach very great importance to experience in the vehicle. The study provides impressive evidence of this: innovative services of the connected car are no longer just nice-to-have features for many.
Almost half of the vehicle owners surveyed would switch manufacturers if a competitor could offer better services, i.e. a better customer experience on four wheels.
But just delivering features is not enough for customers. The main reason for a poor customer experience in the connected vehicle is complex systems with little ease of use, complain the vehicle owners surveyed in the study.
The manufacturers of application software also have to realize that even the most sophisticated software technology and an abundance of functions can only generate enthusiasm with difficulty if the user interface makes operating the programs an ordeal. However, features and good ease of use are of little use if drivers do not trust the technology.
According to the study, many consumers are already afraid of attacks and manipulation of their connected cars. Only if security is guaranteed will customers be willing to share data about the car's driving behavior, its respective location and the entertainment preferences of the driver, for example.