Car manufacturers need to keep up with the likes of Apple and Google when it comes to updating their connected vehicle offering – or risk becoming irrelevant.
That is the view of Jim Elliott and Kalle Buschmann, programme manager and creative director respectively at global design and strategy firm frog.
Frog recently collaborated with luxury car brand Porsche to help develop systems and apps including Porsche Connect and Porsche Offroad Precision.
The pair said the automotive industry is facing an exciting time as technologies are integrated into the driving experience but stressed that car makers need to keep up with smartphone technology.
“Automakers need to update their digital offerings at the same pace and with the same frequency that Google and Apple update theirs,” Buschmann told BusinessCloud.
“Consumers are no longer prepared to wait four years for an upgrade or even software updates – their expectations have changed considerably in the last 10 years.”
Elliott cited Apple’s CarPlay system, which enables people to access their phone’s screen and functions via their car’s multimedia display.
“If customers are willing to pay €300 just for CarPlay integration, it means that the current digital offerings by traditional car manufacturers aren’t good enough,” he said. “That used to be the cost of the entire car stereo.
“In order to safeguard their business, car manufacturers need to become relevant in the digital space.”
Among the features frog developed with Porsche is an accurate 3D model of the user’s actual vehicle and seamless interaction between vehicle and mobile device navigation.
“The car has become yet another part of our digital lifestyle and mobility ecosystem,” Elliott added. “Especially for the younger generation, digital connectivity is a priority.
“Whereas in the past, horsepower, handling, and styling were key drivers of sales, millennials and new buyers are focused on digital offerings and consistent connectivity no matter where they are.”
According to Elliott and Buschmann, there are lots of new opportunities in the ‘connected cars’ space but the biggest change will be the ownership model.
“Customers won’t be buying a fixed unit – they will be purchasing a service, regardless of whether it’s digital or physical,” said Buschmann.
“It’s a huge shake-up for the industry, and in the coming years, most car manufacturers risk becoming irrelevant. They have to respond to this.”
The pair say that “seamless interactions outside and inside the car” is the future.
“Smartphones are at least five years ahead of the internal car’s digital dynamics, and all OEMs are working on creating a seamless experience on par with smart phones,” said Elliott.
“We’re working with many partners to achieve exactly this.”