Portal, Fiat-Chrysler's Millennial-Only Concept Car
【Summary】With laser-focused tunnel vision, Fiat-Chrysler announced their new concept car Portal. This car was designed by Millennials, for Millennials and was of course presented to the throngs of press by Millennials because who purchases anything except for Millennials?
With laser-focused tunnel vision, Fiat-Chrysler announced their new concept car Portal. This car was designed by Millennials, for Millennials and was of course presented to the throngs of press by Millennials because who purchases anything except for Millennials?
Here are my top issues with Fiat-Chrysler's clunky debut:
1) Millennially hobbled - The epic short-sightedness of the Millennial-only strategy is something that many manufacturers and marketers are leaning on today and it ignores good marketing and design principles by having to explain who this product is for.
2) Generational marketing and design - There is no doubt that things change by age and stage of life. Toys are typically for children who have time to play with them. You must be at least 16 to drive a car. Eyesight and motor control can be an issue after 60 and beyond. A good designer will take this into account. By saying that a product is FOR an age band and all of the touted features are focused on perceived preferences rather than needs of an age and stage of consumer is shooting yourself in the foot. Who doesn't want more leg and headroom? Perhaps short people, but height is not typically generational. The bottom line is that marketing to a generation exclusively is lazy and in the case of car manufacturers, stupid. This is tantamount to marketing by horoscope where your date of birth is your sole differentiation. Perhaps their next car will be designed by and for Sagittarians and Gemini.
3) Oh no you didn't - If we must talk about Millennials there is nothing more un-Millennial than telling a Millennial what on earth they should be doing, liking or buying. Discovery is key, not being beaten into submission.
4) Old world company in a new age - Attention automotive OEM's: Wishing to keep individuals purchasing cars will not make it so. The ownership models are changing and evolving. Cars cost a lot of money. And if you live in a densely populated area, you are very likely to not need to own one. Guess which group will likely be the first to cash in on these innovations? I'll give you a hint, it starts with an "M"....
5) Where was Waymo? - Ok, so you have delivered vehicles to one of the most powerful and innovative companies on the planet as a part of their autonomous vehicle solution. They seem to be the company racing the fastest (albeit at slow mph) towards Level 5 autonomy. You are at CES and you don't even mention this?
The worst part of this is that I actually liked the car. The dash is very cool looking and not in a "trying to be cool" way. Steering wheel retraction for Level 5 autonomy, modular seating configurations, jewel-toned changeable lighting schemes (decor vs. illumination), gorgeously massive skylight, adapts to changing needs, etc... So scratch that. I LOVED this car. But alas, this car is not for me as I am sadly not a Millennial - you know one of those people who only listens to Nickelback (yes - this was actually stated in their presentation).
This debut was so Millennially focused that it felt more like a Saturday Night Live skit. I love SNL. I love the Fiat-Chrysler Portal and hope that they fast track it to production. But for the sake of the vehicle and our sanity, I hope that they are done with the M-word.
Stacey Randecker Bartlett
Stacey is borderline obsessed with the Future of Mobility, attending conferences, events, lectures, meetups, hackathons, tours, on AV, AI, EV, connected car, security, transportation, movement of goods to learn, investigate and network. She loves discovering new technology and the teams bringing it to life. A former researcher, Stacey spent over a decade asking questions, analyzing responses and telling the resulting story. She also built a school and oversaw it for five years and it is still thriving today. Her experience building a business within her community and collaborating with local government has given her a unique insight into the different dimensions that impact and are impacted by the rapid changes affecting the automotive and transportation industries. Her aim is to deliver not just the latest press releases, but to contextualize the information and explain why it matters. Stacey holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Lycoming College. She has been a proud resident of San Francisco since the turn of the century.
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