Updated: Apr 11
From driving experience to health experience
The automotive industry turns into a health business.
"We manage our car better than ourselves". It has been a popular statement during my keynotes for the past seven years. With this statement, I'm not just talking about those people who don't smoke inside their car because it's might damage the interior. I'm also talking about how we all take good care of our cars. Because yes… we know about the condition of our car better than that of our own body. There are simply more sensors inside and outside the car. We will be notified of the slightest (suspected) defect, and it can be taken care of. Yet, this service is not widely yet available when it comes to the health of our bodies.
Being healthy and happy is becoming increasingly important in our lives. Just because we feel that we can have more and more of an impact on it ourselves. Driven by this Healthusiasm trend, managing our health is gradually entering every aspect of our lives. And let the car now be a very suitable place for that because we spend quite a bit of time in our car. Besides our home and workplace, the car is where we spend the most time: More than 8 hours a week. This is 18 full days a year, or more than four years in our lifetime.
Therefore, it is not surprising that car manufacturers are working on the driving experience but are gradually focusing more on creating health experiences. If you ask me: This evolution in customer experience strategy makes perfect sense. We all know the exhausted feeling after a car ride of roughly 3 hours. What if we could make people feel healthier after such a long car ride? How fantastic would this be? This vision drives the entire automotive industry to shift towards a Healthusiasm business and make their drivers healthy and happy.
Here is a brief outline of several small and more significant initiatives in and beyond the car. These are initiatives that are already in full swing today. So, this is not a look to the future.
First, let's see how Healthusiasm has become more critical inside the car.
Passenger safety has always been important. Cars have to protect the passengers by being sturdy and robust. Today, cars also correct themselves if they deviate from the lane. Or the car can automatically brake if the driver has not seen a pedestrian or other vehicle in front. But more recent cars now also have the technology to identify unsafe driver behaviour. For example, Volvo XC90 has cameras that analyse the reaction speed and eye movement of the driver. If he or she is too intoxicated or distracted, and on top of that ignored previous notifications, the car can take action itself.
Volvo's aim is that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo. Being able to intervene quickly in the event of an accident also contributes to this. It also offers that sense of safety. For example, some Volvos in the Netherlands are equipped with an Automatic External Defibrillator today. This "Volvo Lifesaver" project ensures that first aid can be administered more quickly. We have already seen a similar initiative working at MyTaxi. It was then set up to bolster their image of "quick service". Because although MyTaxy was the first taxi app on the market, Über still became the market leader. Simply because Über had the image to be faster. MyTaxi, therefore, decided to place Defibrillators in the cars and give the drivers a "First Aid in case of accidents" training. Under the slogan that their Taxis arrive faster on-site than ambulances, they wanted to boost their image compared to the 'faster' Übers. An interesting fact: MyTaxi was bought in 2014 by the Daimler Group, which also includes Mercedes-Benz.
Research by Ipsos in China (Feb, 2021) showed that a healthy configuration was even more important than safety when purchasing a car. With that choice, 69% of the respondents would mainly focus on the health experience. So, how does this translate into product features? More than half expected air conditioning with germ filters or an interior with antibacterial properties. This is an exciting evolution, undoubtedly accelerated by the pandemic.
But this evolution played well into the already existing ambitions of the Chinese car brand Geely. Their Healthy Car Program consists of vehicles with advanced health technologies. For example, the pressure inside the vehicle is automatically adjusted so that contaminated, unhealthy substances cannot enter. If vehicle pollutants do enter, they are sterilised and deodorised by the Intelligent Air Purification System. As a result, moulds, bacteria and viruses don't stand a chance inside Geely's cars.
Well-being and fitness
People are more concerned than ever with their fitness and well-being. But sitting still in a car for a long time seems to be in stark contrast to this. Sitting still for long periods is often regarded as the new smoking due to the enormous negative impact on human health. In their ambition to keep people healthy (and moving), Jaguar has now developed a technology that offers a solution. A 'morphable' seat uses a series of components in the seat to create constant micro-adjustments that tricks the brain to think the user is walking. With this health experience, Jaguar eliminates the risk of sitting still for a long time.
Check out this quote by the Chief Medical Officer at Jaguar Land Rover
Lincoln, the luxury car brand within the Ford Group, also states that their cars should contribute to the well-being of their customers. The entire interior has been specifically designed to create a feeling of calm and tranquillity while driving. The car brand also repeatedly mentions in their official communications that stress is a recurring problem for drivers. With the purchase of a Lincoln car, you now get a free subscription to Calm, a meditation and mindfulness application. This $69 subscription is a small financial gesture when purchasing a $70,000 car, but it highlights the importance of health experiences within the automotive industry.
Bose is often the desired audio system for car buyers. It can also be included in almost all cars. Customers consciously pay extra for this option because Bose brings unparalleled sound quality to music playback. Many do not know that Bose has also been responsible for filtering out the unwanted noise from engines since 2010. Today, as a leading brand for noise-cancelling headphones, Bose now wants to make the in-car experience more pleasant. By cancelling all stressful noises from outside the car, the driving experience should become a healthy one.
But there is more… a lot more !!
Safety, hygiene and well-being are the first - more obvious - actions that car manufacturers take to transform their driver experience into health experiences. But there is more, of course. Solutions for health monitoring, health optimisation and healthy ageing are being launched in cars since 2017. Even initiatives outside the vehicle are getting traction. Think about the impact on the healthiness of the environment and mobility plans focusing on being healthy & happy.
The entire automotive industry has turned into a Healthusiasm business, and it puts every sector – and indeed the Healthcare industry - at guard. How can they deal with these new players in the market? Should valuable partnerships be formed? How do they fit into the ecosystem built with insurers, tech companies and pharma corporations? There are so many questions at hand. That’s why I’ll follow up on this newsletter with a White paper called “From driving experience to health experience”.
White paper coming
In the coming weeks, a white paper will be available on my website as a free download. The document will build upon this newsletter and map the health experiences in the car industry. It will contain Healthusiasm examples by Ford, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, BMW, Honda, Volvo, Daimler, Jaguar, Geely, and Lincoln. Follow me closely on Linkedin to be informed about the launch, or hit me with a mail to receive a personal notification.
Stay tuned in, and till next time.