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Driving in-car experience innovation

The opportunity of designing new
relationships with car users


From engineering a car to designing a relationship

In the short span of a century, we’ve seen the birth of the first combustion engine car and its equally rapid recent fall in favor of electrification. With the promise of autonomous driving, car sharing, and subscription based mobility services, the industry is in the middle of a paradigm shift towards a truly user-centric model.

In the past decade, the rapid pace of this transformation has been largely the domain of start-up EV companies. However, as momentum builds across the industry, the reality is that electric vehicles and new ownership models services are here to stay, shifting society's perspective on what car ownership and experience really mean. This radical shift of mindset opens unprecedented opportunities for businesses to rethink business models, distribution, and product and services concepts.

Designing experiences for automotive is unique: a car needs to reflect the users personal brand.
It’s not all about the screens: AI, voice, and data play key roles in the car of the future
Users expect in-car  experiences that they can love about their smartphones
Every touchpoint in the customer journey conveys the promise of your brand
Download our latest thinking on how the automotive industry can catch up
Our experience

Rethinking car owner relationships

Like any good relationship, the key to success comes from deep understanding of the other. Our relationships with our cars are no different. Modern technology allows us to deepen this relationship through highly personalized experiences such as preconditioning (where the car is turned on, warmed up, music is chosen, and route planned before you even get in) and identifying patterns to personalize every drive.

User-centric design also helps address the stressors that come with using an electric car, including range anxiety, where drivers worry about battery life and where they can easily recharge, as well as issues related to whisper-quiet driving, one-speed transmissions and regenerative braking functions that can all be strange for drivers new to EV.

Equally important as the technology is interweaving the brand voice into the experience. Car brands, perhaps more than any other category, hold a certain place in their hearts, making the process of designing an in-car experience unlike designing any other app or digital product. The user buys into a lifestyle, and the brand reflects that. It’s why most people choose a specific car brand. Even on a smaller budget, people will always choose a brand that reflects their personality, their aspirations at some level. The technology needs to reflect that too.
This is all rapidly changing how customers relate to their cars and car brands. While working for both innovative startups such as Faraday Future, as well as iconic brands such as Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen, we have built and developed a framework of experience that will help unlock the opportunities and mitigate the challenges that lay ahead in this global shift towards new mobility.

“Bridging digital product thinking, car brand design, and engineering will be the DNA of new brand relationships.”

Paul Woods
CEO, Los Angeles
What we do

Define the foundation

Designing an automotive experience is very different from other types of digital products. A car brand represents a lifestyle purchase, often an expensive one. This brand needs to be felt through every touchpoint, from the choice of leather to the interaction of a button on screen.

Defining this core brand personality and experience principles is crucial before any design work could take place. This process starts with understanding the unique attributes that make the experience different from another car brand. We uncover these insights through extensive market research, interviews, and positioning work sessions to define the core values that drive the interface. These principles are the North Star through which all future design decisions are assessed.
Co-creation workshops to define the design principles are key to creating a unique digital language for a car brand
In-car multi-screen architecture is a new field, and every vehicle is different. Exercises such as card-sorting allow ease of validating hierarchies of features with users before designs ever take to screen. Understanding key experience parameters such as reachability, legibility and established mental models, through early testing is critical to building successful information architecture models.
Exercises such as card-sorting allow ease of validating hierarchies of features with users before designs ever take to screen.
Working with our dedicated hardware partner in California with a background in aerospace and defense touchscreen technology, our team can help in-house teams build hardware prototypes of new screen architecture concepts. With the rise in haptics and other advanced touch technology, this pre-validation is key to getting the right screens in the right place.
Protoyping in-car is key to defining the right solution

Build scalable systems

With years of multi-screen experience, we understand the challenges of building a framework across multiple product teams and geographies. Therefore, we assist our automotive clients in setting up our proprietary design systems from day one. This eases collaboration amongst distributed design teams, handoffs with technology teams and external software vendors, as well as managing complex translation workflows.
Designing in systems is key to ease of successful collaboration when designing  complex multi-screen experiences
We have a long track record of integrating with our clients’ teams in various scenarios — from working as a completely standalone team developing new products to integrating specific skill sets into clients’ teams on-site. Where possible, we recommend collaborating in a ‘one team’-approach with both the Edenspiekermann and the product team seamlessly working together. This approach is the same in which we’ve successfully completed our projects for organizations such as Faraday Future and many other automotive brands.
As well as providing core UI/UX competencies, we complement these services with specialists such as icon designers and font designers.
With higher stakes than any other digital product in terms of safety, it is crucial to test every feature and change it immediately to validate it. Our teams are highly experienced in setting up user testing, both in cars, VR simulations, and low-fidelity physical testing scenarios. Tools range from low fidelity tools such as paper prototyping for rapid validation of reachability, etc., to fully interactive, multi-screen prototypes in software such as ProtoPie.
Rapid prototyping plays a vital role in validating assumptions and is an integral key to a project's success.

Team building and training

Many of our clients are in the early stages of setting up a full design team. We provide structure by institutionalizing and standardizing processes such as design sprints, workshops, reviews, Design Couches, stand-ups, and more. Already have the process in place? No problem. We will seamlessly work within this framework.
In early-stage startup and incubation labs, we provide structure by institutionalizing and standardizing processes such as workshops, reviews, etc.
We firmly believe our role as an agency is to help provide fresh perspectives, but not as a replacement for your in-house team. We frequently act as a recruitment consultant for our automotive clients, guiding them through team organization and hiring, even directly interviewing potential candidates.
We can act as a recruitment consultant for our automotive clients, guiding them through team organization and hiring.

We know building digital experiences for automotive is a unique task

Our close collaboration with car manufacturers around the globe have established a number of valuable insights, processes and methodologies that help support established brands and incumbents to be successful in the digital transformation.

Faraday Future

Loaded with 12 touchscreens, facial recognition both in and outside the vehicle, voice control assistant, and fully digital vehicle controls, the FF91 represents the very cutting edge of what is possible when automotive and digital technologies are combined. Our brief: Create a functional and intelligent human interface concept that offers a best-in-class user experience across 12 different screens, sounds, and voices for their flagship model, the FF91.
The new FF91 design language centers around an experience that feels years ahead of its time—both in terms of look and feel, and the technology itself. The digital experience is fully balanced with the physical interior, the time of day, and the driver's desired emotional state. This fine-tuned experience creates the ambiance that turns this car into a second living room.

Vibrant colors—inspired by some of the greatest in Hollywood’s cinematography—inspired the palette, with complementary tones used for night and day modes. The overall interface glows with a shifting backlight, representing the AI assistant in the background, that is always ready to spring to like and assist with the simple voice-command.
Designing and prototyping an interface is one thing. Coordinating 40 designers and engineers product teams located across the globe is another thing entirely. To manage this complexity, we needed a system that allowed multiple teams across multiple continents and disciplines to work toward the common goal. We set out to create a UI Toolkit that served as a single source of truth, setting the roadmap for scale and future evolution.

As with most automotive companies, Faraday Future had a talented in-house team that we worked alongside. To ensure maximum efficiency and produce the highest quality work, we placed our team of designers on-site at the Faraday Future headquarters in Los Angeles for almost ten months. Our designers integrated fully with their existing team, providing guidance on the process, introducing rituals and methodologies to help them continue developing the platform long after our engagement ends.

Volkswagen Car Sharing

Volkswagen Group is the world’s largest automotive manufacturer and has maintained the largest market share in Europe for over two decades. With the shift from products to services, the Volkswagen Group is now rethinking their offer to meet the modern demands for mobility: You don’t need to own a car to use one. Carsharing has gained momentum in cities worldwide.
Who are the people that use carsharing? How can we expand the service to exceed their expectations? How do people find, explore and adopt this new service? How can we design a service that is easy, enjoyable, useful and valuable? We started with these questions and then mapped out and designed the customer journey along the different touchpoints of a carsharing service.

We explored every touchpoint: from the key that opens the door, to the iPhone app to find a car on the street, to the signs that indicate a reserved parking spot. We developed prototypical solutions and tested them with real users in real environments.
The current commercial version of Volkswagen’s car sharing service is “Quicar”, available in Europe.
Our partners

Trusted partners from around the world

Our experts

Our team of designers, developers, and consultants

Paul Woods
Hiro Niwa
Kevin McCutcheon
Toshya Izumo
Denis Speh
Maria Beale
Our insights

Insights from our experts on the topic

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