It’s been nearly four years since Dassault Systemes launched its 3DExperience platform to help customers reach beyond product creation to designing a consumer experience.The idea that we live in an experience economy has come to be embraced by business. Today, most companies understand it’s no longer enough to just deliver a product – that they must instead deliver an experience with an encompassing narrative that considers the entire environment surrounding the product. With that in mind, I found it fascinating to hear about the development of the Lincoln Continental 2016 concept vehicle from Lincoln Motor Company President Kumar Galhotra during a recent Automotive Press Association luncheon.
After conducting one-on-one interviews with consumers, the Lincoln’s underlying mission took shape — develop a vehicle that actually removed the stress points from people’s lives by providing a “quieter, calmer, more serene experience.”The three key branding points became…. Elegance; Serenity; Effortless Power. With this in mind, the design team then proceeded to storyboard the entire experience prior to designing the vehicle itself in order to understand what would be required to make the brand essence real. The results were unveiled at the 2015 New York Auto Show.
This focus on serenity and elegance was delivered through various design elements.For example, as the consumer approaches the car there is an individual sequence of lighting that gently welcomes the driver; something the company has coined the “Lincoln embrace”.Additionally, there is no door latch designed into the door, which disrupts the continuity of the door panel surface.Rather, there is a handle integrated directly at the window/panel line that opens with a simple touch. Once inside, the control panel is designed so that it does not overwhelm the passenger with too much information, but delivers the right amount of information at the right time.
Most interestingly, data gathered during the company’s studies indicated that drivers keep their right/driver leg and left leg at different angles, contributing to driver fatigue.By designing a split seat, each side can be adjusted to optimally support each leg for a more serene, comfortable drive.
For an encompassing experience, the company had to also consider the dealership environment – on a global basis. As Lincoln entered the Chinese market, it had to consider the experience from a new cultural viewpoint.Again, through consumer interactions, they discovered there is a lot of distrust in terms of repair and part costs. To improve this experience in this market, the service bays are designed so that they can be watched from overhead. Additionally, cameras are placed in the service area that enable customers to log-in via a mobile application and watch their car being serviced. All of this delivers on Lincoln’s mission of de-stressing their customer lives
“It’s about what the car can do for you, not the machine itself,” said Mr. Galhotra. Ironically, his presentation was also as gentle and serene as I have ever witnessed. I’m not sure if that is purposeful or not, but it certainly seemed appropriate and a natural part of the entire Lincoln experience.
Ford Motor Company, inclusive of the Lincoln brand, has developed vehicles using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE concept since 2005 when CATIA was named the engineering standard for all new vehicle development.