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Brand Strategist: Where’s the Fun in Self-Driving Car Ownership?

Brand Strategist: Where’s the Fun in Self-Driving Car Ownership?
Automotive

As the NY Auto Show continues, Forward Media pumps the brakes on the driverless buzz

PSFK Op-Eds
  • 30 march 2016

Autonomous vehicles are again a hot topic of conversation at the New York Auto Show. Forward Media Director of Client Services Oliver Miller asks, what’s all the excitement about?

Driverless cars are again high on the agenda this week as the Auto Show rolls into New York.

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan and Renault has already told delegates he expects autonomous vehicles to become more commonplace in coming years, eventually changing lanes on highways and driving through cities on their own. His companies plan to offer 10 autonomous-drive models by 2020.

This time last year, according to KPMG’s annual Global Automotive Executive Survey, only three percent of senior car executives viewed self-driving cars as an ‘extremely important’ market trend.

In North America, 60 percent of those interviewed by KPMG believed the breakthrough for fully autonomous driving wouldn’t arrive for at least another 21 years.

So is it worth getting excited about a driverless future now?

In my view, fully autonomous driving means standardized transport that we call-up via an app to maneuver us into a line of other slow-moving vehicles heading from point A to point B. If that’s the case, surely people won’t want to actually own these driverless cars. What’s the point?

If they can successfully negotiate congested city environments while responding to live traffic updates and park themselves after they drop you off, where is the fun in brand ownership, and how will automotive manufacturers even begin to differentiate themselves?

The answer will be in the interior connectivity of each vehicle.

Car marques will have to adapt to new eco systems, software platforms and common interfaces, used by the consumers. We’ll choose whether to buy Audi, BMW, Ford or VW based on their voice recognition capabilities, screen-based gaming and movie options, tie-ups with the best advertiser deals that beam straight to our dashboards or just who controls the in-car gadgetry eco-system.

Those car brands who perfectly set up their interior connectivity in real time, combined with brand specific safety and autonomy features will take the lead to generate traction within a future world where the joy of driving a vehicle on your own will just be one option of using the car.

It’s worth getting excited about the evolving technologies that will one-day result in a driverless future, such as ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems). There are some very clever initiatives out there now, such as Pilot Assist on the Volvo XC90, Remote Control Parking on BMW’s 7 Series or Kia’s dual advancements in highway autonomous driving, which users radar plus digital camera information, and urban autonomous driving, which relies on GPS sensors.

It may also be worth getting excited about all the hardware and software-reveals that will change the automotive landscape forever. For example, Nvidia recently released its second-generation self-driving computer which will control autonomous vehicles with the equivalent computing power of 150 MacBook Pros—achieving 24 trillion operations a second.

Then there’s Mobileye, the dominant camera supplier for most of the automotive industry, which recently showcased its new HD Live Map platform for autonomous driving that it says is accurate down to 10-20 centimeters.

But maybe we shouldn’t yet get too excited about the actual day when the performance motive for buying a car brand is replaced with which marque has the best distraction gadgets for a new generation of passenger. Maybe, for now at least, we should marvel at future autonomous technology alongside the beauty of new-launch performance-based supercars and hybrids. There are 17 cars debuting at the New York Auto Show. Let’s enjoy them while we still can.

Oliver Miller is Director of Client Services and Managing Director at Forward Media in Germany. Prior to his current role, Oliver was Chief Strategy Officer at design consultancy Orange Hive GmbH, and before that was CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group in Germany.

Hands off wheel via Shutterstock

+Automotive
+car ownership
+Cars
+driverless car
+Luxury
+op-ed
+Public
+self-driving car
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