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TRENDS: What You Need To Know From NAIAS 2012


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A team of PDT designers attended the 2012 North American International Auto Shows (NAIAS) in Detroit and Chicago, an annual scouting trip to monitor the latest industry design trends.

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TRENDS: What You Need To Know From NAIAS 2012

  1. 1. North American Auto the Future 2012 Design, Brand, Experience and Shows
  2. 2. For an industry that used to rely on power and sex appeal for sales, the shift to sensible, money saving options is a huge movement.Did I hear that right?“How much horsepower does this have?” Is what I used to hear fromonlookers next to me as we’d check out the cars on display. This mostrecent show was more about, “how many miles per gallon does it use?” or“how much will it cost me to plug into my house?” Says Gil Cavada, PDTIndustrial Designer.As fuel prices fluctuated wildly over the past decade, there seemed to bethe perception that gas will eventually come down and this too shall pass.Now with the recession dragging on it seems like a greater proportion ofconsumers have resigned themselves to make their next investment ineither an alternative fuel or EV car. Almost all car manufactures displayeda vehicle with fuel type options.The amount of research going into alternative forms of energy will createmore opportunities and options for power to fuel other industries likeconsumer electronics, medical, and even architecture.The implementation of robust operating systems into auto designs aremore essential than ever and have been made possible by the advancesin the consumer product industry. “These industries have inspired eachother and I anticipate that trend continuing,” says Gil.
  3. 3. LED lights, cooled and heated seats, parkassist, navigation, entertainment and internetconnection used to be amenities reserved forluxury autos, but now are coming standard inentry level vehicles. Exotic materials are beingimitated by clever manufacturing process and(add another point).So what will entice buyers to dish out $40k andmore?Brand and Fear.This is luxury?
  4. 4. In few other industries is brand more important. Consumers are motivated by emotional ties to brands they grew up with, took customize brand messages to you, increasing your bond to their brand,” says their first girlfriend to the prom with and were taught to drive in. Auto compa- Christina Cavada, PDT Marketer. nies put huge dollars into brand building. “Growing up the thrill of going to the show was to get up close and even touch the amazing cars and to collect “Brand building starts early too,” adds Christina. “Jeep’s branded Kiddie test posters to pin up in my room and fantasize about owning when I grew up,” track appeals to the little ones, making a hugely memorable experience tied to Brand. recalls Gil. Now, companies are exploiting technology by creating giveaways that can the brand for kids and their proud parents.” Photos with Jeep in the background adorn refridgerators, facebook albums and photo books for years. track and learn about you and your preferences. Show booths entice you to Auto brands are also leveraging co-branding opportunities with another industry take a picture with your dream ride that is sent to your email address. You that is also highly brand aware- fashion. want a tee-shirt? Sign up using an ipad. Capture a QR code and it will link you to their website where they can track what cars you are interested in. And don’t forget the pull of pride on the heartstrings. Big names are hyping ‘built “This incredible information gathering is enabling auto companies to here’ messaging.
  5. 5. Auto companies are also banking on you shelling out big dollars for something you hope you never get to test out: safety features. Technology, materials and design for impact seem to get buyers’ attention every time.Fear.
  6. 6. driving experienceTest tracks have been around for a while at the Auto Shows, butit seems their prevalence is increasing, offering a unique, hands-on opportunity. The Mustang display got it right with a car teth-ered down on a dyno, drawing a crowd to watch a driver and aselected participant from the crowd floor. The participation, superloud noise and lots of smoke got a rise from the crowd andhelped evoke emotion from those who hold a place in their heartsfor the American Mustang. “What experience means beyond the feel of the car’s mechanics and the sound of its engine are the integrated Infotainment systems that are seen in a wide spectrum of models and brands that offer a range of functionality,” says Tom O’Connor, Industrial Designer. While driving the vehicle might remain the core function, there are a whole plethora of “help you/enhance your life” offerings, including your music, news, contacts, schedule and driving assis- tence in many different forms.
  7. 7. As everyone knows, Apple has excelled at unifying the UX of their products so your interactions are always familiar and intuitive. “I’ve “I see some challenges andfailed to recognize this in any lineup of vehicles; no one has a consistent look and feel to their User Interface,” says Tom. “When a opportunites here,” says PDT Strategist,brand can unify their interior UI to well-designed look and feel, they will ultimately deliver a great user experience.” Erik Moses. How will in-car tech systems evolve compatibility andIt offers an opportunity for auto companies to create more reasons for consumers to fall in love with their brand- especially Millenials. functionality with quickly evolvingToday’s texting, tweeting and trending generation can’t live without their smart phones and the technology that they grew up with. consumer devices that people bring into the vehicle to “integrate” their data:Brands like Dodge are recognizing this change and implementing those always-connected, can’t-live-without tech features into their music, contacts, calendar, etc? “Withvehicles, such as the 2013 Dodge Dart. The giant 8.4” touch screen display is the vehicle’s hub for all things that connect the driver to multiple platforms (Android, Apple, etc.)their vehicle, and more importantly their gadgets, friends, music and places to go. and a multitude of manufacturers, there is the risk of a huge lack of consistency“I’d love to see a vehicle where anyone can get in and instantly figure out how to sync their phone or navigate the map, just like the in experience. Is how I use my mobileiPhone or iPod,” says Tom. I see this space becoming very competitive and innovative in the future, as automakers continue to learn device out of the car the same/similar tohow consumers interact with their vehicles’ interior technology. We may even see true integration between mobile operating systems how I use it in the car?....should it be?”like iOS and Android into our vehicles’ operating systems.Who will get user experience as right as Apple?
  8. 8. Design has always been a vital part of the automotive development process. It’s what gets Telehealth has even started to cross over into Transportation. Ford’s partnership withpeople talking, evokes emotion and makes enthusiasts fall in love (or hate). Medtronic has brought us the ‘Sync’ prototype, offering medical device connectivity via Bluetooth. Given how much time we spend on the road and the danger involved in aDesign is in an interesting position, however, with governmental regulations and technology medical emergency taking place in the car, it seems a perfect fit and we anticipate thisrestricting form. The overall form/footprint of most cars are pretty consistent because of trend growing quickly.aerodynamics, leaving automakers to rely on lights, grills and other fine details todifferentiate their looks. Finally, automotive design has to be sensitive to the trends of alternative energy technologies and how they are used by the owner: how to plug in, how to keep solar panelsFuture cars will continue to keep you connected and allow you to use your smart phones clear, how to communicate which bio fuel is the right one for the car, where to place aand tablets for social media, car diagnostics, and control. Chevy allows you to turn your car power cord, ensuring it is accessible in urban, suburban or rural settings. And all of this hason by using an app and giving you facebook updates. Ford allows you to stream pandora to be designed to come off as a cool design feature.through their stereo, Hyundai’s user manual is an ipad; almost all manufactures provide amethod to charge, link up and use your smartphone/tablet while in the car. All of this while Auto design and product design will continue to seek cues from each other and we willkeeping the user safe and entertained. continue to see more integration between the two in the future. What are the opportunities to leverage this for your company?Cars will be streaming various forms of media though the use of land based networks andsatellite link ups. Companies like Pandora, Netflix, and Google will have greater roles increating applications for use in the automotive industry. The use will range from diagnosticinformation to infotainment enhancements.Automotive design will continue to inform and push product design in many industries.
  9. 9. About PDT At Product Development Technologies (PDT) we believe the success of a project relies on our team members’ insight into today’s product developmentissues, advances, technologies and trends. We actively seek these insights to create products and strategies that help our clients bring new ideas to marketwhich inspire, spark desire and impact their bottom line. This report was part of our latest issue of PULSE. Sign up to receive your free issue on our website.