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The key ingredients of the car user experience

Mike Welsh
14 Dec 2023

The humble car – where we are reported to spend over four years of our life – is being reinvented around the user

The car of the future will be very different to the one of today. As vehicles become digitized, high-end cars may change from a luxury driving experience to a luxury chauffeur experience, with music, mood lighting, or wellbeing features. A car interior could adjust its layout and color at the touch of a digital dashboard, to become a conference room, a meditation temple, or a bedroom. Other uses will arise that we can’t yet imagine.

But today’s market is increasingly competitive – with a long-term downward trend in vehicle ownership. Premium carmakers must stay competitive, and the in-vehicle user experience will be a key element of this brand differentiation. Successfully delivering this new vehicle user experience requires significant changes, both to the vehicle and the ecosystems around it, as well as the skills, culture and business models of carmakers.

In the first part of this two blog series, we will discuss the key ingredients of this new Mobility Experience.

What will success take?

It will ultimately come down to three areas:

  1. The in-vehicle user experience
  2. The vehicle communications system
  3. The mobility services ecosystem

These are outlined below.

Requirement 1: In-Vehicle User Experience

The in-vehicle experience depends on elements of the vehicle that enable new and richer experiences for the driver and passengers. Such elements include head up displays and windscreen AR overlays which can present driver insights.

It includes infotainment, which naturally includes screens and speakers, but may also include smart lighting, connected temperature and movement sensors and seat adjustments (eg. actuators and heating pads). The future mobility experience will also include functionality we haven’t even thought of yet – this is really just the beginning.

Getting this right requires a range of hardware and software that must be designed, deployed and regularly updated, in order for new digital experiences to be easily (and securely) uploaded to the car’s computer.

Requirement 2: Vehicle communications

The key driver of the digital user experience is connectivity. This allows vehicles to add new digital services, make updates, and share data to generate real-time insights, as well as talk to smart homes, and smart city infrastructure.

Good connectivity means implementing Wi-Fi, cellular, Bluetooth and other wireless communication technologies which in the future will likely be extended to include Low Earth Orbit satellite communications. It will also mean integrating the communications protocols and software that allow these to operate reliably, and communicate via the car’s telematics control unit (TCU). Cellular is probably the most pressing challenge.  Most vehicles can already connect over Wi-Fi, but that relies on a local signal. Cellular – especially using new 5G networks – would allow ‘always on’ connectivity that allows real time data processing, over-the-air updates and features on demand.

Requirement 3: Mobility services

This last bit is about launching software services, or apps, which interact with the in-vehicle technologies to offer new user experiences, such as restaurant recommendations, or information about points of interest the vehicle is passing.

Work must be done to design the in-vehicle systems to accommodate such apps, and set up processes to safely download and integrate them. Vehicle makers may have teams working on their own apps, but even these will need processes for certification, and dedicated channels in app stores. This will be doubly important if OEMs wish to welcome third-party applications.

Want to find out more?

In the second part of this blog, you’ll learn what it will take to redesign vehicles for smart mobility: Part 2: How to set yourself up to redesign the car around the user.


Mike Welsh

T&I Director Capgemini Engineering
Michael is responsible for defining and executing the technology strategy and roadmap across the ER&D Automotive Portfolio. He is also currently the Offer owner for Mobility Experience which includes Intelligent Cockpit, Vehicle Communication and Mobility Services.