Due to the pandemic, consumers want more health safety, sanctuary, disinfection and sanitization in their cars. The need for a virus-free environment is fuelling car buying as well as subscription services.
Auto Futures talks to pollsters, analysts and researchers to find out the future of mobility post Covid-19.
What do Consumers Want for Disinfection in their Cars and Rides?
Schlesinger Group’s Piplsay’s survey found 61% of respondents were ‘keen’ on cars that would come with health and wellness monitoring features like germ filters, air purifiers and biosensors.
“The study of 30,422 responses validates that we thought. Health, safety and germ awareness are extending into the car,” says Ted Pulsifer, Executive Vice President, Enterprise Solutions at Schlesinger Group.
“One year ago, it would not have been an issue. There is a dramatic shift in the market that continues over to automotive sanitization, sterilization and health. It also shows that price is also important, We think of it as a new frontier,” adds Pulsifer.
The need for virus protection is also affecting attitudes towards ride-hailing.
Strategy Analytics found among American ride-hailing users at least 44% cited advanced air filtering, clean surfaces, driver testing, driver partitions or a mask-wearing requirement as being slightly are much more likely to influence their decision to use ride-hailing after Covid-19, reports Derek Vita, Senior Group Analyst for In-Vehicle UX.
In the ride-hailing space, air filtering is the top added value in the U.S. whilst clean surfaces and driver testing are the top value ads in the UK.
For personal vehicles interest in most countermeasures for safety and cleanliness are extraordinary. How each of these could add value in future vehicle lines could be immediately beneficial among buyers, notes Vita. He also suggests it would be valuable to stakeholders to explore what concepts of what clean, sanitize and safe mean to their target segments especially in transport.
Similarly, an IIHS Markit study found 54% of consumers are interested or very interested in antimicrobial coatings – the top places are: interior door handles; followed by the steering wheel; seats; touch screen display; and the centre console.
“We’re seeing more people being concerned about what they want. Also, they want disinfectant supplies such as wipes and hand sanitizer in rideshare vehicles,” says Kyle Evans, Senior Automotive Analyst, UI/UX at IHS Markit.
He reports that the pandemic and Covid-19 is bringing out the underlying importance of owning a personal vehicle.
“Overall, people are placing health as a top priority as well as not just the cleanliness of the vehicle with what they can see but what they can’t see. They are concerned about how to protect themselves from viruses. What’s interesting is 47% would say they would pay $100 in additional 14% would pay $500 this shows that consumers want safer interiors and they are willing to pay for their health safety,” concludes Evans.
Why Consumers Won’t Go Back to Their Old Normal
Consumers are going to expect new kinds of solutions. They are showing new kinds of behaviours. The pandemic has accelerated the convergence of mobility and wellness. It is an enhanced wellness in-vehicle experience. For example, German automakers are declaring wellness as the new luxury re-defining luxury that delivers stress-free and clean experiences, says Chris Rockwell, CEO and founder of Lextant.
“Their behaviours are like rubber bands; after stretching they will never go back to the same,” explained Rockwell during the Festival of Automotive.
People will expect designs to safeguard them from germs, viruses and pollutants. They have a notion of the vehicle as a sanctuary. People are expecting high standards of hospital grades of cleanliness and designs and services that help them maintain them.
Lextant has created an entire sphere of human emotional experiences to explain how mobility post-Covid-19 could make consumers feel safe, stress-free and secure.
For the vehicle to remain a sanctuary it needs to be clean, contactless and crowd-less. Design changes include, air filtration, use of antiviral material and smoothing surfaces to make them easier to clean, says Rockwell.
For anti-viral coatings Rockwell offers the example that Bolt rental electric scooters are self-disinfecting using nanoSeptic surfaces on handlebars and brake levers that are activated by light. Or another solution could be portable UV sanitation for items placed in the car such as the trunk.
He also notes Geely’s increased air filtering and disinfection. For shared mobility there may be something like Factorydesign’s isolate kit for aeroplanes. Something people can carry with them to set up barriers that allow for some protection in shared mobility experiences.
“There are opportunities for automakers to detect, protect and prevent exposure to harmful things. We have to design a solution so that people can enter the world and be more confident that they are having a safe and trusted experience,” says Rockwell.
The return to and rise of the individual owned and operated car is underway.
The pandemic has affected ride-sharing significantly – cutting demand in half. Until these operators install and adopt partitions they will continue to suffer and become increasingly dependent on food and package delivery, says Roger C. Lanctot, Director Automotive Connected Mobility, Strategy Analytics.
For partitioned mobility, he gives the example of Toyota’s and Monet Technologies’ mobility vans. The vans have patented forced ventilation that pulls fresh air through the centre of the van and exhausts it out of the back. The vehicle is equipped with a partition between the driver and passengers and curtains between the passengers. Seats are covered with clear vinyl for easy cleaning.
“Mobility is thriving in the form of micro-mobility and greatly intensified interest in touchless, person-less delivery drones and vehicles. Car-sharing, too, is recovering as people look to individually operated vehicles to get around,” adds Lanctot.
Because more people are working at home there is less driving. One in 10 respondents surveyed by Strategy Analytics has gotten rid of one or more cars – but these ‘vehicle losses’ are being offset by car-less urban refugees who suddenly find that they need a car or two. Covid-19 is not the end of cars, states Lanctot.
The longer the pandemic lasts the more attractive owning a car will become. Ride-hailing operators are resistant to installing protective partitions and transit users are still leery of subways and, to a lesser extent, buses.
“The return to and rise of the individual owned and operated car is underway. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of new cars – as factories struggle with tangled supply chains and workers baulk at returning. Short and long-term car rentals can be expected to return along with more affordable car subscriptions – these offerings will be attractive to the newly unemployed who will not be able to prove employment,” predicts Lanctot.