As automotive ownership and utilization changes, personalized experiences win
Marco Della Torre, CTO of Derive Systems, is high on customization.
The way vehicles are owned and used has already started undergoing a huge change. It used to be that one-size-fits-all vehicles satisfied the market: buy one and you do everything with it. But you can’t do everything well. It used to be that owning a car was a necessary part of life—getting to the office, taking trips on weekends or vacations, and more. But you don’t have to own a vehicle for many of those experiences.
Consider that by one report, 1 out of every 10 cars sold in 2030 will be used specifically for shared driving. By 2050, that is expected to grow to 1 out of 3. As ownership by the end consumer decreases rapidly, the demand for optimized and personalized experiences grows exponentially. While autonomous and electric vehicles may take many years to dominate the roads, technology that offers the mission-specific performance and consumer-specific personalization craved by the market is becoming available today.
Personalized experiences through flexible ownership
Subscription ownership has proven itself in verticals as varied as software and fashion. Vehicles are rapidly joining the trend, with OEMs such as Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volvo, and BMW recently launching their own subscription services. Subscription ownership is starting to deliver the flexibility consumers are looking for by giving access to vehicles to suit different needs at different times. The next evolution of this trend is to bring the change inside the vehicle, making the vehicle itself adaptable to the driver’s mission or preferences in real time.
Personalized experiences through flexible utilization
As urbanization continues and even accelerates, there is a decreasing desire to take on the cost and overhead effort of vehicle ownership. By converting the vehicle from private to shared use, high-availability mobility has upended traditional vehicle use patterns. A significant number of private vehicles in large, urban metropolitan areas are used part time as commercial vehicles, delivering rides for ride-sharing services like Lyft or Uber or being shared among multiple drivers through car-sharing services such as Getaround and Turo.
Owners, drivers, and passengers alike are participants in mobility as a service, where the experience is an integral differentiating factor. Ride-sharing drivers and car-sharing owners are eager to lower costs, maximize income, and ensure their personal safety and that of the vehicle. Ride-sharing passengers and car-sharing drivers are invested in lower costs, convenience, proper maintenance, insurance of the vehicle, and the safe driving practices. Personalizing the driving and riding experience has only just begun, with product feature introductions such as subjective ratings and in-app music selection. The next step in this trend is to give more control to elevate ride-sharing and car-sharing experiences and safety, while also enabling those advantages in the context of private vehicle use.
The next generation of personalized automotive experiences: vehicle software upgrades
Vehicle features are governed by the processor networks that translate user inputs into action. When a button, switch, or a pedal is engaged, there is a network of computers turning that command into the vehicle’s response. How that input gets translated into the response depends on software running on those computers—the “brains” of the vehicle.
OEMs set general configurations so that the same vehicle can be used in any conceivable way—from a daily urban commute, to transportation of a heavy load, or even a highway road trip. Software upgrades, long-used by enthusiasts, allow consumers to transform a vehicle from one that can perform adequately in any environment to one that can perform optimally for the environment and purpose of its use.
Whether to address changing ownership models, utilization models, or other preferences, these software-based vehicle upgrades make the vehicle a truly personalized experience, adapted to the needs of drivers and passengers for every trip.
The combination of software upgrades, apps, and smartphones can integrate with vehicles to provide even more intelligent and advanced mobility solutions. Imagine a ride-hailing passenger who wants to ensure that the driver’s vehicle has no maintenance issues. By connecting a vehicle’s internal maintenance monitoring system to the driver’s and passenger’s apps, any issues are immediately apparent to all—and the issue of opaqueness of the shared riding experience is removed.
Likewise, any driver who frequently changes their vehicle, whether via an OEM subscription, traditional car rental, or car sharing, can take advantage of integrated technology that identifies them as the driver and automatically adjust every setting—from infotainment to acceleration response—to their specific preferences.
The shared usage of vehicles is here to stay. OEMs are moving toward creating vehicles that will support specialized uses, but product development can take years if not decades. In the meantime, other technologies like aftermarket upgrades and integrated solutions will provide the most innovative solutions for consumers.