Early discussions about the connected rental car solution concept centered around personalizing the shared car experience. Initial features tossed around to enhance the rental/sharing experience were:
- personalization and convenience — having your preferred music available, comfort, temperature, seat and mirror positions, phone paired, and even smell
- choosing a car — augmented reality that views cars in the rental lot with prices hovering above each one, car locator via GPS on mobile device and flashing lights or honking horn
- keyless mobile device to lock and unlock doors/trunk and starts the car
- easy navigation — seamless trip planning from mobile device to car head unit
- car as a payment device — gas pumps, drive thru restaurants, tolls, parking
- integrated trip reporting and expense management
Next, we added a set of possibilities around improving the process for the mobility partner — rental or sharing. After discussing all this with various ng Connect members, we came up with a set of specifications for a vehicle that could support the most important features and be capable of supporting future features that we haven’t imagined yet.
With the specs in hand, a faceted search was done and the field narrowed down to a couple of brands/models with certain useful options installed. Out of that list, Hertz enthusiastically suggested a Ford Mustang. They had recently teamed up to release the 50th Anniversary Edition Ford Shelby GT-H to celebrate their original partnering with Ford Motor Company and Shelby American that introduced the 1966 Shelby GT350-H and their famed Hertz “Rent-A-Racer” program. It was noted that a convertible was also a great feature for the practical aspects of demonstrating the car’s features to groups on a trade show floor. So, our list of potential car choices for a “mobile application development platform,” narrowed down to one — a Ford Mustang with certain critical options. We visited a few area Ford dealers that had close matches on required features. We taught the salespeople a lot about the technical aspects of head units, as we ran detailed tests to verify our assumptions. We had found a match and brought home the ng Connect Program’s first Ford Mustang to begin development of the connected rental car prototype.
Fast forward to early 2017– the contributions of several ng Connect members came together and we had great solution concept demos on a platform that was “easy on the eyes”. One Mustang is currently touring North America with home base in Plano, TX and a second Mustang spends most of its time in France and Germany. The Mustangs’ looks may bring the crowds to see the demos, but it is the actual demos that fascinate them even more. The concept is a finalist in the Best Aftermarket Telematics Product/Service category of TU-Automotive Awards 2017, with winner to be announced at their June conference.
The concept has been shown in many locations and is scheduled for many more in the near future. Those details and complete information on the concept is on the ng Connect web site under Portfolio.