Drivers will decide the winner of the connected car race

Lori Castle
New York 40° 42' 52.38" N, -74° 0' 25.632" E

Analyst firm SBD estimates by 2020, over 34 per cent of cars globally will have built-in connectivity to the Internet. But is this really how you define a “connected car?” What about the driver? In a new study, HERE examines the evolving state of mobility and reveals detailed insights of user needs.

Autonomous vehicles are all the buzz, but there are several things to perfect before the world goes hands-free. The opportunities abound and the hunger for connected cars will be well-reflected at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016, which will feature nine booths from global carmakers — as well as participation from thousands of related companies — and a show keynote by the head of North America’s largest car company.

Also on display, of course, will be all the latest gadgets with all their new ‘bells and whistles’ trying to become “the next big thing.” Yet, the key to this event is actually not electronics, i.e. the technology on display; the consumer is the star — the user — and in our case, the driver.

“The HERE Connected Driver 2015 segmentation study,” is an acknowledgement of this fact and a valuable tool to help automakers create their 2020 strategies.  The results of the study will be shown in an interactive demo at CES 2016.

The study suggests that sometimes the industry focuses too much on connecting the car itself, instead of looking at the people inside of the car.

“If you misunderstand the needs of the connected driver or leave them behind you are missing opportunities. Connected drivers and connected cars must work in concert to work at all,” says Jeffrey Hannah, Director, North America, SBD. Some connected car offerings provide a one-size-fits-all value proposition, he adds.

One size does not fit all

Dora Heinkel, Marketing Intelligence Manager, HERE, and project lead of the study, explains:

“A connected car is often thought of as having as many features and services as possible, but this results in overload. Overload while driving equals distraction. Instead, the industry should be asking what is useful and meaningful.”

After all, connected drivers are engaged in a mobility experience that goes well beyond the car. Extending from their 24x7 digital lives, they anticipate the same experience from a connected car — simplicity and seamless integration. “Too many features and too many complex UIs are contradictory to user expectations,” says Dora.


Simplicity translates into curation; going from information overload to providing relevance — personal and contextual information when it’s wanted. In fact, with connected cars, the stakes are higher as the demand for the right information at the right time is even greater for location-based offerings.


Big opportunities

Herein lie the opportunities. Dora points out that consumers are often asked about design and style, but are less frequently asked about their pain points. “The HERE Connected Driver 2015 segmentation study” deeply examined the needs and wants of both drivers and passengers and came up with six key segments for automakers to consider.

The segments can serve as either a starting point or baseline to help fill the gaps. They are highly useful tools for shaping product and service ideas, as well as effectively grouping the preferences of future buyers of connected cars.


As examples, Jeff cites “The Proud Achiever” and “The Virtual Urbanite” segments. They both have an affinity for embedded navigation systems; so much so, it affects their car buying decisions.  “This could be a billion-dollar opportunity, as it not only influences choices today, but brand loyalty in the future,” he said.

Dora points out, “In and of itself, the choice to own a car or not is personal.  For some, it’s a necessity; for others a status symbol. The inside of a car is personal, too. To some, it’s a refuge; a place for ‘me time.’ For others, it’s family time; running the kids around town. And for still others, it’s a social space; a place to catch up with a friend on a long drive.”

Going forward, automakers should give careful consideration to personalization in order to achieve success. Jeff concludes, “While it is tempting to focus on features and services, step back and ensure the connected driver is at the absolute center of your next generation connected car plan,”

It comes down to this: the winner of the race to connected cars will be the company that listens and creates a strategy based on the driver not the vehicle or the technology itself.

To get more information on mobility and navigation profiles and driver attitudes, visit us at CES Central Plaza, Booth #CP-2.

Topics: HERE at CES 2016, Automotive, CES 2016, Connected cars, Insights