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In-car personalization has been a hot topic for many years. Experts have long been predicting that it will become a key differentiator for OEMs and mobility service providers. The only problem is, I haven’t seen or heard much about it lately – have you?
Accenture did an interesting study around this time last year – the first of its kind –where 7,000 people were asked about their various car priorities in order to assess the importance of in-car personalization.
|The importance of in-car personalization|
|Car ownership||Car sharing||Autonomous mobility|
|Premium car owners||15%||13%||11%||Non-premium car owners||8%||8%||8%||Non owners||4%||11%||11%|
The results point to some pretty low numbers. While premium car owners are the most likely to prioritize in-car personalization, a mere 15 percent care about having it in their own car, 13 percent care about having it in a car-sharing scenario and 11 percent care about it in an autonomous mobility solution.
While 15 percent of a multi-billion-dollar business can add up to some coin, according to Accenture’s research, people overall aren’t chomping at the bit for in-car personalization. This could always change but for now it does not appear to be a huge selling feature.
Extremely limited exterior options
I saw a car the other day that made me wonder: could the auto industry have it all wrong? Maybe what consumers really want is to avoid the dreary, white, grey, and black exteriors that can be seen everywhere. Oh sure, there might be some madman every once in a while in a burgundy car but generally speaking people have very limited choices when it comes to car exteriors.
More than a quarter of cars in 2018 were white, while shades of black, gray, and silver made up over half of the market. Is that because people want lackluster cars or because our options are so limited? Go check the available paint options for most cars on sale today and decide for yourself.
Dealers are overly conservative
I see so many great colors on standard-issue cars at car shows: “Twister Orange Metallic”, “Lantana Purple”, and “Green Shock” for example. However, whenever I go to a dealer’s website, even though they have some interesting options, they are typically special order. And who wants to wait six weeks when they need a new car?
I suspect dealers are overly conservative and order cars with boring colors because they know a white, black, or gray car won’t put someone off a sale whereas a “Green Shock” just might.
But I think people are tired of drab.
External car personalization
One of the simplest ways in which car owners are starting to avoid the monochromaticity of today’s bleak exteriors is through car wraps. In fact, they are fast becoming the go-to vehicle modification for those wanting an inexpensive change. Unfortunately, most people’s experience with car wraps is in the commercial realm where apparently there is a glut of good designers.
But choices for tasteful car wraps abound. There’s a plethora of very inexpensive DIY kits online as well as many suppliers who will gladly turn that bland white car into something spectacular – with or without the flash.
Given that Covid-19 is likely to push many bank accounts precariously close to the waterline, changing the color of our cars might just be a cost-effective way of giving us that “new-car feeling” in the months ahead. As someone who is dreadfully tired of today’s dismal choice in car colors, I can only hope.