Guess what? You don’t have to own a vehicle anymore, and soon you won’t need to drive one.

We’re experiencing a monumental shift that will change the way we view on-road transportation. The term “mobility” is rapidly becoming associated with conceptual changes, notably around owning a car versus sharing, and humans ultimately relinquishing control to machines in exchange for convenience.

This can come as a concern to many. But refocusing design away from controlling the car to the in-car experience makes Mobility as a Service (MaaS) easier to adopt. By integrating infotainment options to make trips enjoyable and/or productive, passengers can start to see driving as just another way to spend their time – whether watching a movie or hopping on a conference call – rather than a traffic-causing hassle they have to take responsibility for.

Those in the automotive industry can also help ease drivers into this new cultural gearshift: by designing in a way that builds trust.

Design Thinking links trust to vehicle transformation

Using design thinking methods helps us understand and design for people’s needs, expectations, abilities, fears and desires. Therefore, applying design thinking can help accelerate the conceptual understanding and acceptance of mobility.

Design thinking is all about finding out what motivates people to take action. As a framework for thinking built with empathy at the center, it helps identify what problems to address and in what order. Finding the right problems is just as important (if not more) as how we should implement new technologies. Any MaaS solution that focuses more on technology rather than understanding its targeted users is likely to be ignored in the marketplace.

The importance of understanding people before deploying technical solutions is only going to increase as autonomous vehicles become commercially available. The gap in trusting myself as a driver versus my vehicle as one is huge. Enabling drivers to gradually enter the world of autonomous vehicles, rather than throwing them into a self-driving car right off the bat, will be critical for drivers to voluntarily give up control.

Mobility decreases congestion? Not quite yet

Early reports indicated MaaS to be increasing the number of vehicles on roads, opposite of some earlier predictions. Mobility options are pulling riders off public transportation and putting them into one- and two-person vehicles. This isn’t a death knell for believing MaaS can positively affect congestion on our highways; it’s likely a temporary phase of the transition we’re undergoing.

Through design thinking, we have determined several factors that need to occur before traffic congestion decreases. People must have confidence in the following thoughts:

  • A nearby vehicle will be available whenever I need it
  • Parking will be available
  • Costs will be cheaper, or at least match current expenses
  • This vehicle will meet my various needs (can carry many people, hold a lot of luggage, drive over adverse terrain when I need to go up a mountain to ski, etc.)
  • This vehicle will provide an experience better than my own car (it’s clean, smells good, drives well, has great infotainment options, etc.)
  • I won’t have to deal with inconveniences like fueling or cleaning
  • Courteous customer service will be available to help me, especially during car accidents
  • All this will be easy and I will feel in control

Once these are met, drivers will stop buying cars – the turning point to reducing the number of vehicles on the road. But until then, early adopters will both own cars and use MaaS, and public transportation riders will merely experiment with MaaS.

Convincing drivers for the road ahead

It’s doubtful Henry Ford actually said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” But had he asked, he may have learned that drivers wanted to get from A to B faster.

Today, their answers center on freedom, entertainment, and convenience. Calling an Uber, Lyft, or ReachNow is easy to do – and you can tell your driver to go anywhere. As the transition phase continues, the greatest challenge will be showing drivers and riders that this change is safe and trustworthy. And if Ford could usher in a revolution, why not us?

For more information, be sure to join us in our upcoming webinar, The Mobility Revolution: Enhancing the Relationship with Your Car, on December 12th at 5 PM CET.

Click here now to register!
Kevin Wick
With nearly 25 years of design leadership expertise, Kevin leads ‘Smashing Ideas’ design practice. His unique possible+pragmatic approach results in digital engagements that go beyond usability and usefulness to become experiences that delight and have personal significance in the lives of the end users. This has resulted in a client list that includes ReachNow, Amazon, Philips, T-Mobile, Discover, Microsoft Accelerator, and ABCNews, to name a few.