Vehicles Designed for User Experience

No doubt the convergence of high-tech and the transportation industries is greatly changing how we view the future of mobility. At the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which nips at the heels of the Consumer Electronics Show where cars also make debuts, concept vehicles illustrated just how much vehicle design has changed over the past few years.  Whereas in the past most of the design interest was focused on the vehicle exterior’s sweeping lines and curves, this year’s vehicles, especially the concept cars, were focused on user experience. So much so, that the annual EyesOn Design awards, co-sponsored by Dassault Systèmes, added a User Experience category to its award nominations. The vehicles at the North American Show were a diverse mixture of body styles including sedans, cross-over vehicles, trucks and mini-vans as well as powertrains inclusive of fuel injection, hybrids, all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell. Here’s just a taste of what was on display.

Garden in a car

RinSpeed Oasis — Of all the new vehicles, this one was obviously focused on user experience rather than aesthetics. It’s electric, autonomous, highly connected and meant for sharing. It has a lounge-like cabin with armchairs, a TV and a windscreen that can be used as a virtual (VR) or augmented reality (AR) display, and is designed to be re-purposed for multiple uses. And, did I mention the garden space?


Chrysler Portal

Flexible seat positioning with the Portal.

The most customizable of the vehicles on display. Think of it as an electric mini-van with elevator doors. The Portal provides access to local Wi-Fi, facial and voice recognition technology for multiple drivers so each can customize their preferences, 10 charging ports for mobile devices, and the ability to move the four seats in multiple directions, folded flat or removed completely. It also features semi-autonomous driving technology with eyes of full autonomy in the future.

The Buzz, an update to the VW hippie bus

VW Buzz — Named Best Concept Truck winner. Although similar in concept to the Portal; where Chrysler says the Portal was designed by Millennials for Millennials, the Buzz is more Baby Boomer; an ultra-updated version of the vintage VW hippie bus. Its repositionable seats can be moved or combined to form beds for overnight trips. The second row seats can be configured into tables. An “ID Box” center console with a detachable tablet display can be moved around the interior or used outside the vehicle with its Beats Bluetooth loudspeakers. An AR head-up display is projected onto the windshield, overlaying navigation, speed, battery level and other data.

Nissan VMotion 2.0

Nissan Vmotion “floating roof”

This car won both Best Concept Car and Best Innovative Use of Color, Graphics and Materials. With a dramatic silhouette, a “floating roof”, and the latest HMI, the VMotion is aimed at providing a seamless mobility experience for busy professionals through emotional design, space, comfort and technology including ProPILOT driving support with an ultimate focus on autonomous driving.



Best User Experience

The BMW 5 Series – Named the Best Designer User Experience, the 5 Series is a production vehicle that was the favorite for the way its tech features are integrated and operated, making it easy to use for the average driver. It features a new user interface (iDrive 6.0), BMW Gesture Control, the latest generation of Heads-Up Display, Remote 3D View and an improved Voice Control with natural voice input. It also Remote Control Parking and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, setting the path towards semi-automated driving.

The Role of Today’s Designers
— As the above examples show, automotive design has significantly evolved over the past 20 years, shifting from creating cars for manufacture to creating meaningful mobility experiences. The issue today is how to design with the customer at the core; how to design not just a quality product, but also its interaction with the environment, creating a total sensorial experience. Designers need to now imagine future scenarios where the product will be used and design it within context of these potential experiences. To design within this idea of an experience eco-system world requires advanced digital technologies to envision what these user experiences will be like. The DESIGNStudio at Dassault Systèmes helps automotive OEM studios make the transition to Experience Thinking, creating a digital culture that’s focused on user experience across the range of touchpoints within a mobility solution. The DESIGNStudio team helps companies learn how to create a complete product scenario that integrates the viewpoints of users and other stakeholders. Visit here for more information on Dassault Systèmes solutions for Transportation & Mobility.

Nancy Lesinski
Born and raised in the Motor City by a Donna Reed mom and Corvette engineer dad, my parents were continually surprised that their humanities-loving daughter ended up with a career focused on manufacturing and the automotive industry. I’ve been providing communications services to Dassault Systemes since 2001.
Nancy Lesinski
Nancy Lesinski