Tutorial purposes: Are in-car platforms becoming too generic?

7 minute read
Tutorial purposes: Are in-car platforms becoming too generic?
10:22

Seamless in-car services are extremely important for drivers, according to the 2023 Parkopedia Global Driver Survey, which flagged that 77% of motorists would prefer to have integrated parking services (enabling them to find and pay for parking spaces through their vehicle) and 60% want in-car payment functionality for vehicle-centric services, such as parking, charging, fuelling and tolling. However, OEMs that rely on ‘off-the-shelf’ service packages, such as Google Built-in (formerly known as Google Automotive Services) - which limits customisation and how much OEMs can tailor the in-car experience - are constrained to providing a generic service, which fails to differentiate vehicles from rival models. Parkopedia’s VP of Sales and BD Europe, Markus Dohl, highlights the value of providing tailored in-car services.

In the past, drivers often decided which car to buy based on mechanical aspects such as the type of engines and transmissions on offer, and luxury features available from leather upholstery to even massaging seats. Today, connected car features play a much more significant role in which cars drivers choose, with many cars now being sold based on the digital experience they provide, which is evident from the strong promotion of these services at recent global motor shows such as IAA Mobility in Europe and Detroit Auto Show in the US, combined with the associated launch materials for new vehicle announcements.

Substantiating this, nearly half of all EU drivers cited connected car technology as playing a more significant role in their choice of vehicle over factors such as engine power in the latest Connected Car: Consumer Expectations, Opportunities and Challenges for the Industry’ report from the NTT Group, with this figure almost certainly being higher today. Similarly, 47% of respondents in the same survey would be willing to switch brands to get the innovative connected car features they desire, rising to 60% of drivers under the age of 45. 

Added to this, a higher proportion of drivers across the US, Asia and Europe would be more willing to pay a premium for advanced infotainment and connectivity kit than for safety equipment, alternative engine options and autonomous driving technology, according to the 2022 Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study.

While many ‘off-the-shelf’ connected car operating systems are available - Google Automotive Services (Google Built-in) being a commonly used setup - many automakers are directing their drivers towards smartphone apps for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, generic formats that fail to differentiate the in-car experience for drivers. Such standardised systems mean that cars from varying brands and price points end up providing very similar interfaces, leading to buyers struggling to find reasons to choose one vehicle over another, resulting in heavily reduced brand loyalty. This is exacerbated further when the service provided is also effectively an extended smartphone service that has not been optimised for the in-car experience.

Relying on generic connected car operating systems and projected apps also means that OEMs are heavily restricted in their product roadmap for future developments. Instead, there is a dependence on companies such as Google to create and develop the services their drivers want, rather than being able to address their drivers’ specific needs, combined with potential delays and misaligned timings. At this stage, the $100,000+ ‘premium’ vehicle then provides the same in-car experience as a $20,000 ‘budget’ vehicle, or even a $500 smartphone on CarPlay.

Drivers want seamless connected car services

It was highlighted in the Parkopedia Global Driver Survey that drivers place high importance on having seamless in-car services that make it easy to locate, navigate and pay for parking and charging. However, while off-the-shelf solutions mentioned earlier and featured in projection mode applications may look like they address drivers’ needs today, they provide only basic, and quickly outdated functionality, compared with that offered by specialist connected car service providers, such as Parkopedia. 

Parkopedia recognises that drivers want more streamlined, intelligent services through their vehicles and combines its data and algorithms with vehicle sensor data, to provide a far more integrated, value-adding experience to drivers. Furthermore, having tailored in-car services provides OEMs with retained ownership of their customers, as opposed to what is currently provided or allowed by Google or others. Not only do OEMs need to own their driver relationships by accessing driver data and understanding their customers better, but it also opens up additional revenue streams within connected services, which is now a common feature in future plans at every automaker - providing full control of the user experience and customer relationships, rather than onerous data and revenue sharing requirements.

Off-the-shelf platforms and services limit revenue streams for OEMs

Relying on generic services such as Google Built-in leaves automakers distanced from their customers and results in dependence upon a single one-size-fits-all service, which likely will not suit their brand and customer acquisition plans in the future. Similarly, integrating drivers’ phones within the connected car setup may look appealing initially due to the reliance on smartphones in daily lives, however, this provides an equally generic and substandard experience for drivers, providing a poor service that is uncooperative to the vehicle and not tailored to the drivers' needs, therefore limiting potential revenue streams for the OEM. This also has an adverse effect on consumers, making it hard for drivers to differentiate between models that use these standardised platforms and easier than ever to switch away from the brand.

Tailored connected car services make the most of vehicle data

While today in-car payments are not possible through projected applications, Parkopedia has significant expertise in providing this service across the automotive industry. Parkopedia’s ability to leverage vehicle sensor data and combine this with its parking and charging availability information also enables OEMs to provide far more accurate real-time data and payment options to their drivers. 

This combination of highly accurate Parkopedia parking/charging data and OEM vehicle/driver data makes it possible for vehicles to recognise who is driving and the most likely driving times or routes - tailoring navigation and connected service suggestions to provide a far more immersive driving experience. This could extend to features such as automatically directing the driver to a parking location with a high likelihood of having available spaces at their time of arrival, recognising that the normal place where they park is particularly busy at that time of day, or suggesting spaces or charging locations that facilitate in-car activations and payments to utilise a saving promotion from the provider or even to save precious minutes and make the next appointment or meeting on time. 

With Parkopedia’s services able to recognise when vehicles enter certain parking locations, this makes it simpler than ever for drivers to initiate and end parking sessions, ensuring drivers also pay the correct amount and avoid any overcharges - a genuine risk with many parking apps that don’t automatically stop parking sessions or enable top ups when plans overrun.

The days of bad embedded solutions are over - new Operating Systems and SDKs make the difference

In the past, the development of in-car systems was slow and often restricted by outdated operating systems (OS) and a lack of developers and developer tools for these OS. This led some OEMs to abandon in-house development and hand over their in-car experience to Google. But the industry has progressed and the world has changed: Today, OEMs can specify and develop IVI systems with previously impossible speeds and feature scope leveraging modern operating systems, such as Android Automotive OS, and auto-grade SDKs from Mapbox, TomTom IndiGo and others. In addition, OTA update capabilities now make it possible to create “the always new and up to date” in-car experience much more cost-effectively if the OEM controls connectivity and data flows, rather than Google.

Seamless connected car services increase brand loyalty

Such features enable OEMs to offer tailored experiences to drivers, instilling customer loyalty when done correctly, as they know that their car can take the stress out of daily driving tasks for them. 92% of drivers in the 2023 Parkopedia Global Driver Survey experienced difficulties in finding parking and nearly half of respondents deemed parking information as “very important” or “extremely important”. OEMs have the perfect opportunity to win over and retain drivers with well-integrated connected car services compared with rival models fitted with generic and disconnected services.

Seamless integrated connected car services also offer OEMs greater potential revenue from fleet vehicles, and commercial and aftermarket sectors than off-the-shelf packages, with scope for additional services, such as parking payments and fuelling payments to be managed all together in one place. 

All this means that while off-the-shelf platforms and app-based connected car services can seem like easy solutions for providing in-car functionality to drivers, these present new fundamental problems that lead to diminished revenue streams from poor connected services, and more crucially, complete customer loss to rival brands as everyone is offering the same connected experience.

Visit our dedicated product page to learn more about the bespoke connected car services that Parkopedia provides.

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