3 Questions: Tien Tzuo on Connected Cars

June 3, 2015

1 to 1 Media recently interviewed Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo about his thoughts on the connected car industry. 

What would be the ideal connected car experience for a driver?

As a driver I’m looking for an experience that brings back the romance of the ride. I can get maps and music on my phone — I want my car to get better and better the longer I own it, through wireless updates: smoother handling, faster acceleration, new diagnostics.  As a passenger, I’m looking for seamless integration with all my infotainment and streaming media services. I’d love to be able to enjoy a Sonos playlist or a Netflix show that starts in my living room and follows me into my car.

 Given the popularity of iPhones and Android devices, shouldn’t automakers partner with companies like Apple and Google to provide smoother integrations with in-car infotainment systems? What are the advantages for the customer if automakers produce the infotainment systems in-house?

Smart integration with mobile phones makes sense, but right now I think the auto industry is in real danger of handing over their dashboards to Silicon Valley. Technology firms are looking at connected automobiles as the next big mobile device market, as a huge data services opportunity. They’re very serious about this — Google and Apple are making their own cars! But cars aren’t phones.  The auto industry needs to protect what makes their vehicles unique, and reinforce their decades of industrial manufacturing and design expertise with cool new features that happily surprise their drivers on a consistent basis.

What are some best practices for helping dealerships stay up to date on the advanced technology that automakers are adding to new models?

For a broad strokes view of new upcoming auto technology, I’d start with the Tesla Model S firmware changelog – it’s a pretty remarkable document. Tesla drivers wake up to find that their cars have improved suspensions, new top speeds, traffic-aware cruise control, the list goes on. They’re delivering on what I call “the subscription experience.”  Once someone buys a Tesla, they never go back. I’d also pay attention to the new plug-in device companies out there like Automatic, Metromile and Lytx, as well as established players like GM’s OnStar and Toyota’s Entune.

Zuora Academy Guide: 6 Questions for the Connected Car Industry