Telematics In-car systems: Ford, Mercades, Toyota and Pandora

There is a free-to-access panel discussion about in-car systems for the daily drive from the Telematics Detroit 2011 conference

Audio file here: Deliver In-Car User Experiences Fit for the Daily Driver


  • David Gersabeck, Product Manager – SYNC TDI, Ford Motor Company
  • Dr. Kal Mos, Senior Engineering Director, Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc.
  • Michelle L. Avary, National Sales and Marketing Manager, Advanced Technology Department,Toyota Motor Sales
  • Andrew Krehmeyer, Business Development Manager, Continental Infotainment & Connectivity
  • George Lynch, Vice President – Automotive Business Development, Pandora
  • Moderator: Bill Schwebel, SVP of Marketing and Product Planning, INRIX

My notes:

How do we develop applications that only require fleeting attention.  How are things launched in a zero or one click app that are designed specifically for vehicles.

At Ford we have tackled the problem already.  Most of our vehicles don’t have a smart screen display.  Just because you drive a vehicle that doesn’t have a display doesn’ mean you don’t want to access apps.  Our apps can configure itself to work in a two line character display as well as on a smart screen.

At Mercedes we try and offer a seamless experience, for instance our Pandora app has all of the features that you associate with Pandora but wrapped in a Mercadeds interface.

Statements 5 agree 1 disagree

1) Form an in-car perspective its more important to focus on navigation, communications, safety and security rather than the entertainment and internet applications.

Both are important, have to deliver the basics but you have to have the entertainment to differential.

If the customer is willing to pay for entertainment that remains to be seen.  ONce they have to pay for infotainment the market does not step up as they do for navigation.

2) Is important for automakers to provide user experiences beyond the car on desktop or mobile?

Dave – now everyone is connected and they want the features to go with them everywhere they go.  If I have already searched for a place to eat when I get in the vehicle the car should know where I decided to go.

As far as entertainment is concerned Pandora does that already, car, home or mobile.  Bottom line is some of the apps I may not want to follow me.

3) The key way to differential is to offer unique experiences rather than do the core things better.

Everyone thinks doing the core things best.  The customer experience in the vehicle is the key differentiators.  All apps will be available on all cars so its important to have a clean user experience.  Michelle – the differentiation is how they deliver the services.

Questions from the floor –

Q – Mike Snea Hughes Telematics, based in Europe.  Do any of you feel that there are differences in user expectations in different parts of the world.

There are significant differences by region, with the Ford strategy we will leverage app link so that apps that are popular in one region over an other.  It doesn’t really matter if the car supports all of the apps.  Its market driven and individual driven.

Michelle – the smart phone penetration will dictate differences.  In the US we have Safety connect where as in Japan there is GBook.  The content is not yet global due to digital rights management.  All things point to regionalized differences.

Q – Taking the experience outside of the vehicle to desktop or mobile based on your experience what is the acceptance rate for consumers coming into portals to interact with their vehicles that way.  Like Ford Sync my ride

Ford gets a lot of traffic to synchmyride especially the owners forums.  The feedback on forums help drive responses or plan fixes as well as develop new features.

Mercedes sees going outside the car we try and integrate with the way people interact with things for instance we chose to integrate with Google maps instead of doing our own amp apps.  Things happen on the web and on smart phones much earlier than the phone so we have to integrate with existing consumer behavior.

About Daniel Davenport

Daniel is a digital media executive with internet and broadcast experience. Daniel is currently the executive strategy director at THINK Interactive.

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