THE PROVOCATION: Access Plans are an alternative service offering for car companies focused on providing for the benefits of car ownership, without the car.
The automobile industry hasn’t changed much since it started producing cars in the 1890s. Auto manufacturers produce and sell single-occupancy vehicles so that their customers have a primary way to get from one place to another. But the priorities for today’s drivers are shifting. As we face issues of dwindling natural resources, increasing gridlock and air pollution, we seek new ways to gain access to the things we want and need. Instead of transporting ourselves from home to the grocery store or the doctor’s office, new technology offers options like ordering groceries to be delivered, or using a phone app to diagnose health problems.
Putting together prototypical access plans for friends and family, it became clear that cars provide more than just transportation. Young people look forward to a driver’s license as a rite of passage, moms appreciate low-pressure, private conversations with their kids and partners, and everyone loves the time to sing like no one is listening.
This project explores a new model of services for a car company. Rather than focusing on the sale of physical vehicles, it’s about catering to the needs of customers. The three ideas below exemplify possible services for three demographics with distinct needs – senior citizens, teenagers and families.
Central to this new model of services is the Access Consultant, who gives a human face to the initiative. Part salesman, part therapist, their job is to listen to a client's situation and propose the optimal package of services. One-on-one consultations bring to light the needs of the consumer – be they related to employment, education, food or storage. The Access Consultant maintains a relationship with the consumer throughout their entire Access Plan experience.
A PLAN FOR EVERY NEED
The Elderly. Organizing transportation to doctor’s appointments is a frequent stress for one elderly user. In this case, an Access Plan includes a device that attaches to the user's smartphone and allows her to complete regular check ups at home. By bringing the medical service to the user, she's able to access what she needs, without the headache of navigating the streets as an elderly driver.
Teenagers. A user is approaching her 16th birthday and yearning for the freedom of adulthood. Her Access Consultant adds the Adventure Trip to her plan. She'll join other young people on a group outing that tests their readiness for adulthood and opens doors to new experiences.
Families. When one user told his Access Consultant about how much he uses the trunk of his family van to carry kids’ bags and sports equipment, the Access Consultant added the locker service to his Access Plan. Now he can keep all of the family’s things in locker locations convenient to where they’ll be used. Amenities such as these allow consumers the best of both worlds – similar features, but no burden of car ownership.
How could a car company prioritize access over mobility?
What happens when access becomes a commodity in itself?
What's the cost benefit analysis of access services vs. car ownership?