The role of “trust” in adoption of emerging innovations in mobility and transportation

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As the mobility industry explores alternative modes of transportation, a maturing rideshare sector, various levels of autonomous transportation—and many other innovations—adoption will largely depend on establishing a deep sense of trust among consumers, according to Kristin Kolodge, Executive Director of Human Machine Interface (HMI) and Driver Interaction at J.D. Power.

In an audio interview for journalists and analysts who will be covering this year’s Auto Revolution 2019 in Las Vegas on October 23-24, Kolodge states that the current period of creative experimentation is introducing an unprecedented array of options to consumers.

“It's an extremely exciting time to be in the mobility industry. There is a significant amount of dynamic movement as the industry explores a number of white space opportunities—unmet consumer needs—in the marketplace,” she explains.

That said, new innovations that promise to address a whole host of consumer challenges are evolving at a head-spinning pace.

“We are, for instance, seeing a wide range of transportation solutions that reduce driver error—and accidents caused by error—as a result of the conversation taking place about automated driving. Electrification is a really hot topic as well, along with the role that micro-transportation solutions—like scooters—and much much more. Lots of different options are on the table as new and established players in the industry recognize that there's no one-size-fits-all solution for the mobility needs of consumers,” Kolodge says.

Trust a Function of Expectations

With so many new concepts and technologies emerging that seem destined to change the very culture of our mobility-driven society, Kolodge asserts that a deep and broad understanding of how the concept of “trust” is perceived by consumers will be critical to success.

“We really see ‘trust’ at the heart of this entire ecosystem. We've been doing research in this area for quite a number of years here at J.D. Power. The emotion of trust in the context of new ideas and technologies plays a central role in how a number of inter-related innovations are accepted by the market,” she says.

As much as people would like to think of themselves as early adopters that are open to new ideas, change continues to be met with suspicion by most consumers. All of the major innovations of the day have encountered initial skepticism.

This was true of the early days of ridesharing, the range anxiety associated with electrification, and the trepidation that is still being worked out around driverless vehicles. The key is to set consistent and credible industry-wide expectations for consumers.

“Setting proper consumer expectations about new systems and solutions is extremely important in establishing trust with consumers. It is just as important to avoid creating over-expectations of what new systems or services are capable of as it is to drive interest and excitement. In the case of autonomous vehicles, for instance, we must establish a broad understanding of what the roles of cars, roads, drivers and passengers are going to be. It is important to do this very early on in the introduction process, before the expectation gap becomes too big,” she says.

This, Kolodge concludes, cannot be achieved by any single company. The complex community that makes up the automotive and transportation sector will have to collaborate and coordinate how they present a trusted vision about the future of mobility.

Listen to the full podcast interview with Kristin Kolodge on building a trusted future for the mobility sector.

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Kristin Kolodge
Kristin Kolodge
Executive Director, Driver Interaction and HMI, J.D. Power