A spectrum from functional to luxurious
With new mobility concepts such as car sharing, there is a risk of depersonalization. Mobility customers will no longer own the cars they drive in and therefore have no — or only limited — means of tailoring interiors to their individual demands.
While lighting technologies such as LEDs can be used to partially customize the appearance of vehicle interiors, it would be far more challenging (and expensive in terms of today’s cost) to do so more extensively. Automakers and mobility companies, therefore, face a key question: to what extent and in what manner should a car be personalized?
The hospitality industry offers important lessons. Consumers understand the tiered model where, for a price, they can choose from a spectrum of pure functionality to luxury. Functionality may include quality paired with limited personalization, while luxury is about comfort, personalization and experience.
In our automotive future, consumers could choose a functional form that balances price and efficiency for the commute, with limited personalization and the sharing of space with other occupants. At the other end, for a price, consumers could opt for private transportation that picks them up at their doorstep and offers an immersive multimedia experience without compromising comfort or privacy.
The battle for users, not just drivers and buyers
Automakers will undergo a most dramatic transformation as their entire business models shift from vehicle ownership to mobility-as-a-service. There is a real risk that automakers will have no relationship with the customer in this new ecosystem if they focus entirely on the product.
However, by personalizing the in-vehicle experience, automakers have a genuine opportunity to retain and strengthen those relationships. They will have to develop an ecosystem of willing collaborators (existing and new entrants) — technology companies, interior design firms, and media and entertainment companies, to name a few.
Material suppliers and Tier 1 automotive suppliers focusing on car interiors may also be heavily impacted. As the high-margin parts are eliminated, automotive companies are directing their attention to other high-margin business.
Given their footprint and direct connection with the consumer through sales and services, dealers also have a unique opportunity to shape the experience inside an autonomous vehicle. Just as automakers are doing, dealers should innovate and experiment with new business models to capture and maintain the customer relationship.
One of the drivers of change we expect to significantly impact the industry is disruption driven from outside the industry. Technology, media and entertainment organizations, start-ups and even mobility companies are offering their own alternative visions for what consumers can expect inside a future mobility solution — be it a self-driving road car or even a flying taxi.
These opportunities are driving transactions in the supplier community as suppliers try to acquire capabilities, such as mapping, augmented-reality technologies, artificial intelligence and deep learning.