Overcoming Usage Hurdles to Increase Tech Adoption in Automotive

Season 1 Episode 11
April 18, 2023

Episode Summary

Point B welcomes Scotty Reiss, Founder of A Girls Guide to Cars, to talk about tech adoption challenges faced by automakers when introducing new features into their vehicles. What will it take to increase consumer comfort and confidence when using new automotive technologies? How can OEMs increase their ROI on advanced automotive tech? What are some of the things the industry can do to accelerate new feature adoption?

Key Highlights

1:10 What is A Girls Guide to Cars?

2:50 Enhancing the user experience

6:50 Empowering the vehicle owner to use new features

8:30 How to engage non-engaged consumers

9:21 Building trust and value through vehicle data

11:15 Purchase decisions and vehicle ownership longevity

Meet Our Guests

Scotty Reiss
Scotty Reiss

Scotty Reiss is the founder of A Girls Guide to Cars, the leading automotive site for women. Missioned with sharing cars on women's terms, Scotty also regularly contributes car content to Forbes, Parents, Pure Wow, and others. She has written for The New York Times, Town & Country, The New York Daily News, and Adweek. Scotty also serves on the board of Women in Automotive and as a juror and steering committee member of the World Car Awards. A graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, she lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and daughters.


- [Presenter] Welcome back to another episode of Point B a SIBROS podcast where we interview industry experts about the latest innovations and trends in automotive technology and the connected vehicle industry. Tune in to learn about topics ranging from the next generation of electric vehicles to advances in connectivity and micro mobility.

- Hi, I'm Steve Schwinke, and welcome to Point B where we discussed the emerging trends in the really the transportation industry. And today's episode, we're gonna be talking about overcoming usage hurdles to increase tech adoption in automotive. And today I'm really excited to speak with Scotty Reiss, the founder of a Girl's Guide to Cars which is the leading automotive site for women and it's missioned with sharing information about cars on women's terms. And Scotty also contributes regularly to car content through Forbes, Parents, Pure Wow and other magazines. So Scotty, welcome to Point B.

- Nice to be here. Thank you Steve. Thanks for having me.

- So, let's just start talking a little bit more about a Girl's Guide to Cars.

- So, the mission comes out of, I think, one of the most crazy and confounding statistics in all of human history and that is women buyer influence the purchase of 85% of all cars. That's over 500 billion a year in new car sales and yet they are not engaged as consumers. There's very little content written specifically for women. The language around cars is not about how women think about cars and use cars, drive cars. The content is not designed to invoke emotional attachment to cars or emotional engagement with their cars. If you look at most automotive content, it's either sort of what I think of as like hard appliance type of information. Here's how to maintain it, here's what you need to know. It's finance focused, it is enthusiast focused. Here's how to rev it up, make it go faster. And yet there's almost no consumer voice and no consumer content created around this amazing thing that we own and the amazing experiences it brings us. And when it comes to content for women, there's so much content out there for in other areas and beauty and fashion and style and parenting and decor and travel and food and why not cars. And so, that was our mission 10 years ago was to create a conversation that invites women in and gives women the confidence to be an engaged car owner by letting her talk about cars in terms that are important to her.

- And that emotional attachment, you also talked to your readers about how do you enhance that experience or how do you be more productive while you're in the vehicle and some of the tips that they can start thinking about to really maximize that time that they do have to spend in a car. Is that correct?

- We definitely spend. There's two sides to that coin really. There's the pre-sale and the post-sale. And so, our goal is to give women enough information about a car before as they're considering a purchase so that they're making the right purchase. I mean, there's nothing worse than plopping down 40 or $50,000 on a car and realizing a few weeks to a few months into that ownership that you made the wrong choice. Our goal is to help women to be confident, know that they're buying the right things when they buy a car, what are the packages, what's available, what are the features in a trim level? What are the things that you need and what are the things that you want? And make sure you get the things that you need. And so, our goal is to help women make that correct purchase decision. The second part of that is once she's made that purchase decision and she's in her car to help her really get the most out of it. Maybe she didn't get Apple Car Play well, that's not too late, you can still go get Apple Car Play. Maybe she opted for something that she didn't really understand how it works. Like break hold. My favorite technology in new cars right now is break hold. And we kind of joke like it's so hard to hold your foot on the brake, but when you get it and you know how to use it and you use it at every intersection, it changes your life. It takes so much physical stress out of crawling traffic. So, getting our readers up and getting them really humming along with the technology that they have in their cars, learning how to use all those systems and they call it a take rate. The amount of number of consumers who actually use technology that's in their car, the take rate can be really low. Something like 10 to 30% of people who get advanced technology in their car actually use it. That means they're paying for something they're not using. It also means there's safety systems, there's connection systems, there's advantages, there's all, you know, all kinds of great stuff that is there and you're not even using and you should use it. It's there, you've paid for it and it's gonna make your life better if you do. So, that's the other part of our goal. And then the last thing I'll add to that which is sort of a fundamental element under both is that manufacturers should really support these efforts of education. Not just the sale but also the education. Because once a consumer learns how to use your technology and they're used to where all the buttons are and they're used to what the interface looks like and they're used to how this car feels, guess what they're gonna, if they like it, they're gonna come back and buy another one or they're gonna recommend it to someone else or they're gonna look at something else in that family for their partner or their parent or their child. So, it really is how you build a customer is by creating this great experience from top to bottom.

- I couldn't agree more. And I have like 30 more questions to ask so I'm gonna try to prioritize them. I've been in the auto industry. Most of my career, one of the first things that we tried to do is demystify what the different warning symbols were on the vehicle. Like, does this mean a flat tire? What does a check engine light mean? And that was 20 years ago. Now you have active safety systems in these vehicles like Lane Keep Assist, right? And forward collision alert. And I don't know if the dealers are spending enough time really educating the customer about some of these very important features and so, how do we solve that problem? How do we really empower people to get to know their vehicle, understand all these features that are at their disposal, but they don't even know that they're there.

- You know, that's such a good question and the answer is something that nobody wants to hear and that is simplify the language. That's the biggest hurdle that we have towards tech adaptation in cars is everybody calls their system something different. And I appreciate that Honda has Honda sensing and you know, Ford has co-pilot 360 and that's actually helpful I think. Within that framework, the language needs to be simple and it needs to be human so that people can understand when they're looking at one car and it has adaptive crews and they looked at another car and it has adaptive crews and they look at a third car and it has adaptive crews and they read the one line description and they go, okay, that does the same thing. Now I understand that these things, what these things are because I'm starting to, it's that repetition and it's that reinforcing the message. And that's what we're doing as an industry by giving everything the same name and using standardized names is we're reinforcing that message.

- I just go back to 20 years ago with anti-lock braking systems, right? There were vehicles that were now it's just standard, right? And everyone knows just apply braking pressure and the ABS system will do that pumping of the break in simplistic terms for you to help stop under, you know, slippery type of conditions. But there was a lot of education that went into that. But how do you educate people when they can't experience it?

- So, the question of engagement, how do we engage non-engaged consumers is it's such a perplexing one and it's one that is really very much at the core of what we do. Driving engagement is really critical I think to overall adaptation of technology across the board, not just women. 35% of our audience is male and they come to us because they're looking for that plane speak. I think the more that people are able to experience cars in a great way, you know, in a more hands-on way to drive it and to feel it and to hear it, even if it's just a test drive is so important.

- I always thought that actually having data and that's, you know, our company does that, is provide, you know, how the vehicle is performing and provide that data, that information in a consumable way even to the owner of the vehicle and building trust through data.

- Absolutely. And so, there's one key component to understanding our cars and I think that doesn't really exist. I don't ever see it anywhere, but you see it in other sectors and that is value. What's the value of your asset? And a car, as long as it's running is an asset, it might be an asset that depreciates in price, in value, but it is still an asset nonetheless. And you know, you look at your investment accounts and see what that looks like on a regular basis. You look at the value of your house and see what that looks like on a regular basis. Honestly, I think if we looked at cars that way, I think more consumers would be more engaged in using the features that are in that car, maintaining the function, you know, making sure everything's in good working condition, upgrading things on a regular basis and then maybe even upgrading the technology in the car. So, as you offer, here's an over the year update for this camera and it's $500 and what's the long-term value of that? I get to use it now and it's still gonna be worth, you know, 400 of those $500 in five years. That would be an amazing detail that would make me say, oh so, I get to use this basically for free for the next five years. If I'm only gonna keep the car for five more years, I get to use this for free. That's a pretty good deal.

- It gets me into a little bit of a interesting question as we talk about the software defined vehicle. You know, the idea here is that we're gonna be able to update the vehicle with new features. Do you think that's gonna keep customers maybe, you know, owning their vehicles longer? Is the purchase decision for a vehicle more focused on the exterior styling which a software update really can't, you know, fix?

- Interesting question. There's a couple of cars that have come out recently that have that looking at them from the outside, you would hardly know they've changed. So, Range Rover last year came out with their new flagship SUV and on the outside it looks almost the same as the prior model and that's by design. High-end, super high-end luxury cars tend to have more subtle changes from one model year to the next. And there's nothing like spending a hundred thousand dollars on a car and then having the manufacturer dramatically change the design in a year or two and then all of a sudden your investment looks very outdated. So, they do that with intention so that their customers buy something for a long time. And that's something that we're gonna see more and more. I've been hearing this for a few years now and thinking about not just the software but also the hardware, the hard details inside a car. Everything from like headliners and seats and dashboards and floorboards and all of those things. Manufacturers are looking at how they separate the shell of the car from the its interior and how they can retrofit. Because you know, you think about it, if you were to go and buy a, I don't know, like a 2015 Toyota Prius, the engine is fine. The thing that's taken the most wear are the seats that in the carpets that is like all those soft things are where you really feel the wear and tear in that car, the engine, the chassis, the suspension, all that's probably fine. That'll probably go for another, you know, 15 years. It'll probably go to 3 or 400,000 miles with nothing but oil changes. Toyota's kind of famous for that. So, but then you get in the car and you're like, oh, there's stains on the seats. And that's why people buy new cars is because they want that brand new, never been breathed in experience. They wanna be able to make it their own and they want the warranty. And so, I think, we're gonna end up seeing these hybrids where cars are retrofitted with new technology. They're retrofitted with new seats, they're retrofitted with new details and the whole idea of the extended warranty so that whatever work has been done to the engine and to the motor and that kind of thing that there's a warranty on that. So, they have some sense of protection in their investment.

- I wanna, you know, thank you for joining us today. We certainly could spend another few more hours talking about these topics, but I'd be sensitive of your time and hope to have you again on the Point B podcast.

- I would love that. Thanks for having me.

- [Presenter] Thank you for tuning in to Point B. Join us next time for more autotech innovations and trends. Point B is brought to you by SIBROS.