Auto / Mobility Futures

At IDEO I've worked on three auto / mobility projects looking at the evolution of our relationship with cars in both the near- and long-term.

Auto / Mobility Futures

Over the course of three projects collectively spanning nearly a year I've explored various facets of the mobility space. One of those projects took me to Greenfield Labs (now D-Ford), a joint venture between Ford Motor Company + IDEO, where I was fortunate enough to fully immerse in a dedicated future-mobility studio. Based in Palo Alto, CA, the lab explores everything from cloud-connected vehicle interactions to autonomous vehicles to micro-mobility, as well as speculative design for what a future city infrastructure might look like when we fully transition from ICE to CASE vehicles.

The Challenges

  • How might we improve the experience of cloud-connected vehicles by providing smart digital services that are relevant to the user?
  • How might we design a strategic roadmap to best position our client for the blended ICE/CASE automotive landscape of 2025-2027?
  • How might we improve the CX of the vehicle maintenance journey for both individual owners and fleet managers as we transition from ICE to CASE vehicles?

The Results

  • A reimagined near-term consumer app experience for connected vehicles to help OEMs build and maintain a customer relationship post-purchase
  • A vision for a large, national repair and maintenance chain to serve as a link between customers and OEMs post-dealer-warranty, and serves the business needs of both the client and its OEM partners
  • Explorations into a data-driven maintenance journey that can surface vehicle insights and help customers take appropriate action

If you'd like to learn more about my role and more specific problems these projects addressed, please get in touch.

The Approach
Connected vehicles are increasingly common yet the space is highly fragmented, with everything from OEM-provided apps to third-party devices to mobile-device integrations such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto all competing for the consumer's attention. With so many ways to do the same thing (e.g. maps, music, etc), we first began by exploring how consumers are currently interacting with their cars, and how they extend a car's functionality with 3rd party devices.

When looking to a CASE vehicle future consumer attitudes range from excitement to apprehension, often driven by some underlying emotional reaction more so than a logical evaluation of the technology. To get an accurate sense of how people look to future vehicles, we've conducted in-depth consumer interviews and at-scale quantitative research with hundreds of people of all types, from rural to urban, upper to lower income, and ranges of comfortability with technology.

Uncovering user insights via contextual research in the field

Over the course of these projects, I've conducted field research in California, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Pennsylvania to surface insights from a variety of populations, speaking to everyone from electric vehicle hypermilers to sports car tuners to 4WD offroad enthusiasts, each of which had different reasons for and method of connecting technology to their vehicles. We also spoke to people with older vehicles that were not app-enabled to see if there was a way to create value for them even without a direct link to the vehicle, and to uncover the needs of owners further along the ownership journey.