Generally, consumers today expect products and services to be available 24/7. So, driving a car should not only be means of transport to a destination but an experience enhanced by an endless array of social media and entertainment services delivered seamlessly within the vehicle’s environment.
Fully meeting this trend is becoming a new challenge for the automotive industry. Car companies have been focused on building hardware products rather than delivering software solutions.
An example is the frustration of looking up a destination on your vehicle GPS navigation system that is often slow and painful to use. Comparing that to the navigation on your smartphone which is quick and easy.
When automotive companies started out they were the new cutting-edge industry, bringing disruptive market innovations like mass production and the assembly line.
While there have been huge developments in vehicle safety, build quality and performance over the last 100 years, we haven’t seen the surprising products or breakthroughs to match those in the technology sector.
Therefore, car companies must respond better to customer/consumer expectations around security, data functionality and privacy. In comparison to other industries, the stakes are now being raised for the automotive industry.
Not only do they need to secure the customer’s data, but also the vehicle, while providing a safe drive experience.
Moving from selling a vehicle to providing individualised smart mobility services is forcing the industry to work well outside its comfort zone, and the business models and routes to market success remain contested and still a little unclear.
This challenge has been highlighted recently for Fiat/Chrysler when some hackers were able to take control of a Jeep via its UConnect entertainment system. They were able to alter the vehicle’s speed, control the brakes, radio, windshield wipers, transmission and other features. Fiat Chrysler then had to recall about 1.4 million cars and trucks to fix the problem.
In a similar incident, General Motors (GM), had to fix the software vulnerability in its OnStar RemoteLink iOS app after a hacker built a device to allow an outsider to take over several of the vehicle critical functions.
This is a digital transformation of the automotive industry and has allowed a number of non-traditional, technology-based companies to enter at various points into the automotive marketplace. This presents a growing challenge to the traditional business models that are working hard to stay in the race and provide an integrated solution.
In conclusion, the reality that is driving this trend is the rise of digitally enabled and empowered consumers who increasingly demand that their vehicles provide the same level of digital utility and capability they have grown accustomed to in their everyday electronic devices.