Connected car technology and in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems promise to help drive car sales in the years ahead, but the IVI system is simply a delivery mechanism – it’s only as valuable as what it delivers. As with any type of media delivery system, and IVI is essentially a media platform, the quality of the content is what drives the sale of the hardware. Blu-ray players don’t sell without Blu-ray movies, and iPhones outsell Androids in North America largely because there are so many cool apps for the iOS platform. If manufacturers are going to build connected car systems that appeal to the Millennials, the next generation of car buyers, then they need to have the right apps that appeal to the 25- to 35-year old consumers.
According to research by IDC Manufacturing Insights and Capgemini, consumers today are primarily interested in vehicle safety and the driving experience. The Capgemini report reveals that 80 percent of automotive buyers are willing to share data with dealers and OEMs if they get something in return. What consumers are most interested in are safety and the driving experience (83 percent), vehicle management (79 percent), and real-time service (74 percent). IDC research further reveals that 67 percent of drivers want remote diagnostics, and more than half want mobile service technicians.
So how are these survey findings going to shape IVI design and targeting sales to Millennial drivers?
Here are some of the apps that the next generation of connected-car drivers are going to expect:
1. Diagnostics Data on their SmartphoneThe smartphone is the interface for the digital lifestyle, and Millennials are going to expect the smartphone to give them complete access to their car functions, starting with telematics. Being able to communicate faults to the OEM or dealer is one thing, but Millennials are going to want to take proactive control of automotive service. That means they expect to be able to access diagnostics data, and the smartphone is the logical interface to deliver car performance data.
2. Miles to GoAs part of telematics, drivers are going to become more aware of driving range, especially when they are driving electric cars. Apps that monitor battery power and fuel consumption are going to become more important, especially as sales of battery-run cars increase.
3. Smartphone-Style EntertainmentThe smartphone also has become a primary tool for entertainment and information, and consumers are going to want that experience to transfer to their car as seamlessly as possible. IVI systems already support smartphone access for music and communications, but OEMs are going to have to kick it up a notch. Millennials are going to expect to interact with their cars as they do their phones, and since safety is a concern, that means wireless connectivity with voice activated commands to access music and information.
Ford and Microsoft have already taken the lead here with Sync, which provides a wireless IVI interface for any mobile device brought into the car. However, the smartphone is still the central data repository. Next-generation IVIs will find ways to replicate the smartphone experience and take the actual handset out of the experience, giving drivers access to their music and their entertainment directly from the IVI. The connected car will share app data like any other mobile device.
4. Location InformationOne of the most used smartphone apps for drivers is GPS and mapping functionality. The next generation of driver apps will take location data further. For example, drivers will want to share location data with friends and family while behind the wheel. Or they will be able to instruct the car to find the nearest gas station, grocery store, or fast-food restaurant and the car will not only provide directions, but likely will be able to drive itself to the location. Next-generation location apps will keep drivers in sync with their surroundings.
5. Traffic ManagementIn conjunction with mapping apps, traffic apps are very popular. Drivers want to be warned of traffic jams in advance in order to plot alternate routes. The next generation of apps will not only gather information about bottlenecks ahead, they will automatically suggest alternate routes and even provide new arrival times and offer to automatically phone ahead to inform someone you may be late.
6. The Rolling OfficeOne of the side effects of the “always on” generation is they take their work with them everywhere. Millennials are as connected to their jobs as they are to friends, and the ability to be productive behind the wheel is going to be vital. They are going to shop for IVI systems that can access office files, read and return email messages, check the stock market, deliver custom news feeds, perform simple research tasks, and generally help promote productivity while driving.
These are just some of the apps that are going to appeal to Millennial connected car shoppers. Unlike the previous generations, Millennials have a different relationship with their cars. Most of them see cars as transportation, without the “cool” factor or the need to impress with what you drive. The car, and its IVI system, is just an extension of their digital lifestyle so the more connected cars can perform like rolling smartphones, the more appeal they will have for Millennial customers.