The automobile is replacing the workplace as the “second place” where people live their lives, after their homes. That’s because so many people are working at home during the pandemic, instead of working away from home, according to panelists at the recent CES 2021.
“People are falling in love with the second most lived-in space, and that’s the car,” Andrew Poliak, chief technology officer for Panasonic Automotive, says during a panel discussion titled “Vehicle Tech Innovations Consumers Want.”
The fact that consumers also are reluctant to use ride sharing and public transportation because of COVID-19 also supports the status of the automobile as the “second place,” panelists say.
As people change how they use their cars, that in turn affects how suppliers and OEMs prioritize different features and technologies, Poliak says.
For example, it may be less urgent right now to develop an isolated technological “bubble,” optimized for a consumer who’s sitting next to a stranger in a car or on public transportation and wants to see or hear content in private, he says.
Conversely, there’s more need for infotainment technology that a family, or maybe just the rear-seat passengers, can share while minimizing distractions for the driver, Poliak says.
“The public’s kind-of distrust of public transit and ride sharing … is creating really interesting phenomena,” says Carla Bailo, CEO of the Center for Automotive Research.
For example, consumers are coming to expect “contact-less” sales, and the ability to pay for “everything” from one mobile-phone app, instead of having dedicated apps for different expenses, she says.
Automakers are ramping up contact-less entry and start-up using remote keys, says Christiane Zorn, senior director-product marketing for Audi AG.
“The trends we’ve seen before COVID will continue,” such as contact-less keys, says Stefan Buerkle, senior vice president-sales, cross-domain computing, for supplier Robert Bosch. “They got a push from COVID.”