Design, Infotainment and Connectivity: Customer’s Top Priorities
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Design, Infotainment and Connectivity: Customer’s Top Priorities

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Rodrigo Andrade By Rodrigo Andrade | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Thu, 09/29/2022 - 12:27

The automotive sector is facing one its biggest disruptions in history, as customers increasingly prioritize personalization, interconnectivity and infotainment in their vehicles. With these new challenges, the industry must find new solutions that satisfy clients, automakers and all the actors involved in the mobility sector. 

The industry is transforming at an accelerated pace. “To forecast for the future, we must look back to how we perceived vehicles about five or six years ago. Not only vehicles have shifted dramatically, but the concept of mobility as a whole has changed,” says Fidel Vaca, Senior Director of North America’s Interior Programs for Mexico, Forvia.

Digital disruptions have impacted every single aspect of daily life, while real time technology has brought up significant changes in how people interact with their vehicle. “The car of the future will also be part of a mobility ecosystem. We cannot think of the vehicle as an isolated element,” said Mónica Aceves, Head of Research and Development, Continental México. 

The consolidation of new mega trends will require highly complex architectures, as just moving people from point A to point B will no longer be enough, said Aceves. Despite the many changes, safety will remain essential to the automotive industry, she added. 

There is a large opportunity in the safety department. “Cars are going to become a lot safer thanks to technology and infrastructure advancements,” said Gerardo San Román, Head of Latin America, JATO Dynamics. New tools will also facilitate important tasks of everyday life but it is unlikely that a “one-size fits all” solution will be enough for customers. While security systems might not be considered as interesting as other functionalities, they must remain a priority for automakers and customers. 

The shift toward interior, cabin and in-vehicle experience will be key, as the preferences and demands of new generations have changed. The inside of a car is increasingly resembling a living room thanks to the numerous on-board entertainment options. Cars will likely become boxes of software and hardware, allowing passengers to interact with vehicles in a non-traditional way, said San Román. 

Despite the industry’s transformation, automakers still have to consider user’s emotions when buying a car, which is critical when choosing one brand over the other, explained Sampo Hietanen, Founder and CEO, Maas Global. Automakers must still continue to find ways to add value to their vehicles to stand out. 

The industry is innovating in interior design, introducing interactive functionality to create a sense of ownership among customers, while simultaneously providing experiences that were previously not possible. Automobile interiors will be transformed, changing from simple spaces to sit and drive to rooms that offer everything from stores and video game consoles to fitness centers, said Heiko Wenczel, Director of Automotive and HMI for Unreal Engine, Epic Games. 

Shared mobility, which is impacting the concept of vehicle ownership worldwide, is allowing new players to disrupt the automotive industry’s ecosystem, as new businesses are emerging from the opportunities that arrive with business models such as leasing or co-buying vehicles. 

These new models, alongside the transformation of the vehicle’s interior, open up the possibility for car users to “regain” the time they spent in traffic, said Hietanen. On average, people spend about 90 minutes a day commuting. “Freeing" this time for other activities would be a game changer for millions of people around the world who waste hundreds of hours a year stuck in traffic. 

The large number of potential changes makes it impossible for a single company to provide all solutions in-house, so collaboration across the industry is critical. Manufacturing companies will shift toward a more digital-based business. Due to these changes, the key components of vehicles, such as brakes, engine, airbags and others, will also need to adapt to comply with the new changes in structure. “The challenge will be to understand the dynamics inside the car to provide safety for users,” said Aceves. 

While most new developments are more common in high-end vehicles, these trends must permeate the entire industry, as it cannot afford to ignore the remaining 70-80 percent of the market, said Vaca. This is why adaptability is essential and companies must provide a variety of products and services to the right clients.

The automotive industry has historically been successful as a closed system, but the future of mobility will likely require an open ecosystem. “In the future, the car will be part of an open ecosystem, instead of acting as the centerpiece,” says Hietanen. Vehicles will be an integral source of information, AI and machine learning will play an essential role in analyzing the data provided by vehicles, users and automakers to give a personalized customer experience. 

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