Why your next dream sportscar will be electric
March 7, 2023
The automotive world is transforming fast. We see a shift in desires from the old-school track experience to city cruising and exploring nature. So, enjoying that smell of gasoline and the songs of v12s revving has been replaced by the comfort of visiting a trendy coffee shop or marveling at architecture through panoramic roofs. And the prestige of what’s under the hood now sits side-by-side with moments captured when gliding round curvy mountain roads or discovering a new remote beach between Saint Tropez and Monaco. Cars that make a statement or signify luxury are the ones that do what other cars can’t — that no longer means 0-60 in less than 3 seconds, it means normal->excited in less than three features.
This stark change in customer behavior presents automakers with a big challenge. To create the desired response from modern car users, automakers now need to provide the physical performance that’s expected and craft an interactive experience that’s charged with emotion. In short, the car is now a marriage of the physical and digital, and if either part is lacking, the car — and its creator — are not going to last.
While the views of end users have changed, so have our capabilities in technology and manufacturing. The challenge is presented to automakers, but so is the answer; in the form of software-defined vehicles (SDVs). The SDV enables novel digital products, services, business models, and creates new revenue streams around personalized user experiences, connectivity, automated driving, electrification and beyond. For example, the modern buyer may not have the time to make all the decisions regarding personalization when ordering their car, but the SDV allows them to buy with confidence, knowing they can update and personalize at any point after initial purchase . This has the added benefit of presenting automakers with opportunities for maximizing sales numbers and creating new revenue streams.
Software and electrification may seem like the obvious answer, but they’re only half the solution. While consumers becoming increasingly accustomed to a digital lifestyle with ubiquitous smart devices from phones to houses permeating everyday life, it’s only natural that a smart car is expected too. This feeling is exacerbated by the generation shift that’s driving buyer behavior — as millennials and Gen Z move into higher positions and become those with the most disposable income, their needs are the primary focus for any smart producer. These generations have grown up with technology — an SDV to them doesn’t feel like a shift, it is simply an expectation. So, for an automaker to stand out in delivering what’s expected, the experience must be seamless, intuitive and exciting. It’s true that massive advances in technology have given automakers the opportunity to create such cars, but having the technology capabilities or owning the right software is not enough. Software or electrification alone may help with innovation, but it doesn’t provide the unique user experiences (UX) that modern consumers crave. That’s why it’s so important to incorporate flawless UX/UI design in SDVs.
The architecture of EVs brings a lot of potential for innovative use cases that are not possible with internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, such as using the car as a camping vehicle, with a comfortable temperature, mood lighting and entertainment all night. Similarly, leaving pets in the car for short periods becomes an option through keeping the temperature comfortable. There’s also the capability to include 24/7 vehicle surveillance in an EV, providing increased security. All of these new features are possible because EVs have energy constantly available without the need to run an engine… but, this means new use cases and features need to be considered from a UX point of view. Combined with UX design, it’s possible to create safer, personalized and more enjoyable experiences that fit intuitively into the digitally enhanced lifestyles that modern buyers lead, creating a seamless journey from outside the vehicle to inside.
Let’s look at some key areas where EVs have the edge on ICE vehicles; for example, the ability to defrost remotely in the winter (as opposed to scraping ice or sitting in the car with the engine running) and pre-cooling in the summer. But for this feature to be utilized and appreciated, it needs to be seamlessly accessible from the accompanying mobile app, with the same UX/UI quality as the in-vehicle apps. Think about a TV — there’s little advantage of being able to adjust the volume if you can’t do it easily and seamlessly with a remote control.
To create the biggest advantages, EVs have to be designed with UX of EVs in mind. We see the greatest examples of this when UX design has been incorporated from ground roots — and contrastingly, the worst UX when an EV has been designed using a sloppy adaptation of the ICE equivalent. For example, arguably the biggest consumer fear regarding the purchase of EVs is charging time and the anxiety of losing battery power before finding a charging station. As such, the UX of battery and charging displays within an EV is a key element — it should not simply resemble a fuel gage from an ICE. The battery information should include options for viewing charging optimization information covering when and where to charge, with data about how long it will take. This should be combined with customizable real-time options, so users can choose to view charging locations at specific points on a journey (e.g., near the end of their charge, half-way through a journey, or close to key POIs). Moreover, the feature should be smart enough to allow users to simply type in a destination and have the car figure out the optimal route based on their preferences (some users don’t want to search for charging stations in the navigation system or inside their mobile app — and they shouldn’t have to).
UX is specifically concentrated on the crossover point of physical and digital: How the software capabilities of a car are presented in the physical world. We’ve seen examples of how good UX design creates a positive emotional response in EVs — such as with the widespread acclaim for the sound modes in the AMG EQS 53. Great UX allows for the tactile, logical and emotional connection between the SDV and its users. With our assistance, automakers can react fast to trends and implement flawless UX design, supported by a global team of experts that can be deployed locally and scaled to their exact requirements.
Anyone in the field for buying a sportscar wants more than simply a vessel to go from A to B. The massive changes in the automotive world have created a challenge for such car fans and automakers alike. However, the changes have brought more opportunities than challenges, so desires have shifted while the passion has remained. We said at the start that the modern car is the marriage of physical and digital, and if that’s the case, then UX is the passion that keeps them together.