Consumers Now Buying on Connectivity, Says Nissan

Connectivity features are increasingly informing the consumer’s thoughts when thinking of buying a new car.

That’s the message received load and clear by Nissan which gives voice to this trend in the launch of its second generation Juke compact coupe-styled urban crossover. While the naughty little disrupter of 2010 may have donned a more grown-up suit of clothes, its connected car features bristles with innovation and OTA update possibilities aimed at keeping its owners in the digital loop for years to come. Speaking exclusively to Nissan Europe’s Gareth Dunsmore, in charge of marketing communications connected car services and customer experience, it’s obvious the carmaker sees connectivity as a major sales tool for the new car. Yet, he says the connected features the Juke offers opens up a two-way street of engagement for Nissan. He explained: “Here there is a big opportunity to learn what the customers are doing with their cars and get their feedback to develop more features for them and improve their relationship with the car.”

Dunsmore said that while traditional factors influencing a new car purchase, such as design and performance, remain strong, technology is fast becoming an equal draw for the consumer’s attentions. He said: “In the last three years it’s been the rapid rise in technology which stands out including the type of gearboxes and the ProPilot ADAS but the one that people really, really want is the ability to pre-plan things on their phones, setting destinations and then get into the cars and the destination moves seamlessly onto the car’s navigation and they drive off. When you arrive and need to walk to the destination, it switches straight back to the phone to guide you there. This sort of function pops out as the feature that they want while the basic connectivity we need to see how that grows and how important it becomes to people’s lives.”

Dunsmore is adamant that features have to be easy and understandable if they are to attract the buying public. “All this needs to be automatic, simple and easy for the consumer and then they will use the features. However, everyone is different and we expect people to use the specific features that suit them best – this gives us a chance to offer a range of features that consumers can pick and choose from.”

Looking to the future, he said it is possible that connected services could be tailored right down to the individual level. Dunsmore said: “In time but at this point it’s about learning what the consumer wants and offering a service that’s easy, that offers some value so we can get the right feedback in and, if certain features are not being used, there is no reason that we will keep them on the car. This helps the relationship the customer will have with the vehicle over its whole life and to give them a voice as to what they want.”

One of the top connected car attributes of the new Juke is its ability to keep pace with future digital innovations thanks to an infotainment system that is fully OTA compliant. Dunsmore expanded: “The first thing to note about the Juke it’s a car that can now always update itself. Since the beginning of this year we have been trying to introduce a new connectivity system first with the Leaf, then the Navara and now the Juke which gets more features than even the other two vehicles.

“We will also keep updating it so once you have bought the car you will find new features coming onto the vehicle as time goes one. Say, if we launch a vehicle with a new system in the future that we think could be very useful, we will download the feature to this vehicle, using over-the-air updates.”

The system uses an on-board SIM with Nissan partnering with network provider Orange in Europe to provide wifi access for passenger access to data through a monthly service plan. Dunsmore said charges, to be confirmed when the car comes to market, will depend on the amount of data required but they will be competitive against other providers.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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