LucidCar – The Future of Car Repair

Summary

Worked on an international team that was challenged to shape the future of car repair in the automotive aftermarket. Designed a new repair ecosystem including an app that connects to the user’s car to provide a simpler car management solution.

Developed over 50 prototypes of products and business ideas over the course of 9 months as part of the Stanford University Global Alliance for Redesign.

More coming soon

Type:

Design Thinking Project with internationl students from 3 universities

Role:

User Researcher, UX/UI Designer

Time:

09/2014 -6/2014 (9 months)

Deliverables:

Final Report (Password required), Prototype (PW: tecalliance), App(Android only)

Project Scope:

User Research, Prototyping, Usability Testing

Get App (Android only)

Problem Space

Our Partner

TecAlliance is an information, service and communication company which collects data, standardizes it on a cross-manufacturer basis and distributes it, with the goal of enabling all market participants to sell more parts more efficiently on the spare parts market, while at the same time cutting costs by automating the business processes.

As the leading players in the independent automotive aftermarket, TecAlliance supports repair shops with comprehensive technical and business know-how. It enables the collection and standardization of spare parts data, making them available to parts manufacturers, wholesalers, and repair shops.

Independent Aftermarket

Design Thinking is a human-centered, highly iterative innovation method that focuses customers and their needs rather than a specific technology or other condition. The Design Thinking approach tries to find a solution with respect to business viability, technological feasibility and the customer’s desirability. Innovating at the intersection of business, technology and humans fulfills the prerequisites of radical and disruptive innovations


Design Challenge

The initial challenge presented to our Design Thinking team entails the complexity of the independent automotive aftermarket and states as follows:
How can we make sure that independent car repair shops are able to provide more efficient and economical repair and maintenance services for their customers considering the opportunities and risks of digitization and networking within the value chain of the independent aftermarket in the automotive industry?
Every element of the challenge offers further interpretation and is explained as follows:

Independent car repair shops

These shops offer maintenance and repair services for vehicles from different brands. They order spare parts from various players of the automotive industry (Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), wholesale dealers, online platforms and spare part producers).

More efficient & economical repair & maintenance services

Since the repair shops face strong competition from the authorized repair shops and the market environment is changing they need to find a balance between competitiveness, profitability and quality.

Chances & risks of digitization and networking within the value chain of the independent aftermarket:

The value chain in the independent aftermarket is changing because of digitization and networking (increasing amount of data, more possibilities of distribution, new concepts like “connected car”, “self-driving cars”, etc.)

Design Thinking Process

Design Thinking is a human-centered, highly iterative innovation method that focuses customers and their needs rather than a specific technology or other condition.

The Design Thinking approach however tries to find a solution with respect to business viability, technological feasibility and the customer’s desirability. Innovating at the intersection of business, technology and humans fulfills the prerequisites of radical and disruptive innovations

Design Thinking projects can be divided into two main segments:

  • The first phase is a diverging approach focusing on the breadth and quantity of ideas.
  • The second phase, on the other hand, puts greater emphasis on selecting and refining prototypes, leading up to a high resolution final prototype.

During the entire project, our design thinking team worked with an iterative approach: redefining the problem, needfinding, ideation, building of protoypes and testing with the user.

Design Thinking also stresses the importance of continuous prototyping and testing, allowing the team to fail early and often, and to incorporate the feedback and learnings into the next iteration.(images © Dtsag,2014)

Summary of Road to Lucid Car

Summary body
As described earlier, we will mainly focus on the steps that eventually led to the Lucid Car solution. Download this Prototype List to view a detailed description, feedback and learnings of all 50+ Prototypes (30MB).

Design Space Exploration

Personas

To make the stakeholders in the market more tangible and provide a starting point for our further research, we constructed different personas based on user interviews. The personas present the distinctive needs and behaviors of the different stakeholders. After drafting our initial personas we validate our assumptions and improved our personas with real-world input and experiences. We created over 10 personas including different end customers, wholesalers and repair shops personas.

Trends

As we want to improve the market situation of independent car repair shops we also have to consider general market trends.

To better understand the complex market we did extensive secondary research, interviewed stakeholders and talked to trend scouts of various firms. We identified a total of 9 trends that were relevant for our challenge:

  • OEMs attacking the IAM.
  • Specialization.
  • Changed market behaviors of insurances.
  • Connected Cars.
  • Digitalization.
  • Impatient and inflexible car owners.
  • Self driving cars.
  • Moving from car ownership to car usage
  • Emerging of BEVs

Benchmarks

We also compared the independent aftermarket to various other sectors that faced similar challenges or opportunities. We looked at fields like food industry and generic drug manufactures and others that were relevant for our challenge:
  • Independent financial advisors: Like in the aftermarket the independent advisors have to compete with the original creator of the (financial) product.

    They succeed through strong and individualized customer relationships.

  • Doctors: Similar to the aftermarket there is an information asymmetry between the doctor/ mechanic and the customer.

    By focusing on transparency (e.g. filmed surgeries) doctors are gaining the trust of their clients.

Download the Research Documentation (17MB) to get more details about the user research and the learnings we derived from our personas, trends and benchmarks analysis.

Critical Function Prototype

Critical Functions

For the most important findings of the needfinding phase we defined various critical functions that a possible solution has to fulfill in order to succeed.

For each of the 15 critical functions we defined we built mutliples prototypes to carry out that function and subsequently test.

Relevant critical functions for the final prototypes were:
  • Facilitate repair appointments
  • Provide incentives to foster customer loyalty
  • Strengthen customer relationship
  • Provide service/repair details
  • Offer access to better knowledge about the car’s history

Prototype Spotlight: Provide Instant Knowledge

Prototype Example: Not one that we picked later but shows progression for the critical function instant knowledge. Provide Instant Knowledge. At this stage very rough prototypes.
Coming soon

Prototypes leading to LucidCar

As described earlier, this will mainly focus on the steps and prototypes that eventually led to the LucidCar solution.
Vehicle History Card

The complete history of car repairs is stored on the history card. The customer, the repair shop, and potential new customers have an easy overview on what work has been done on the car in the past.

Learning: Customers were also interested about the future of the car, e.g. upcoming repairs.

Instant Appointment

The mobile phone is connected to the car through a Bluetooth OBD-II interface or similar and can access onboard diagnostics codes. If there is an error in the car the user sees the problem on its phone and can immediately make an appointment with a repair shop close by.

Installing an OBD device is perceived as being complicated.

Other relevant prototypes leading to LucidCar were:
  • Bonus leaflet protoype: A customer loyalty tool that allows repair shops to build a more personalized relationship with their clients.
  • Repair alarm: Customers get notified when maintenance is required and can then choose the right repair shop based on location, price and the length of the repair.

Dark Horse Prototype

Methodology spotlight

Before plunging into the Dark Horse phase we stood at a point where we had to broaden our view on the topic. To do so we made use of proven methodologies to project the future of the connected car and related technologies:
  • Progression curves: curves are an extension to the technology adoption life-cycle, which outlines common stages of user adoption over time. This method puts event timelines, industry lifecycles, and other developments in historical context relevant to the respective topic.
  • Janus Cones lets you release the strict linear assumptions of events, allowing to view multiple, overlapping, and intersecting events in a single shared framework at once (both Carleton, Cockayne & Tahvanainen, 2013).

Technological trends relevant for car management

Based on these methodologies we identified 3 major trends that are relevant for car management in the independent aftermarket. (See documentation for detailed description)
  • Growing importance of infotainment systems
  • Car data revolution
  • Quantified Self and Data transparency
More coming soon!
Designed & built by Lukas Eiermann 2016
Always happy to chat .