“One of the things we’ve been talking about is gamification, convincing our consumers that certain behaviors, and doing certain things, is a good idea,” said Frankie James, managing director of the General Motors Advanced Technology Silicon Valley Office.
When the OEM first released the Chevy Volt, the company found that e-car drivers were competitive about how well they were doing in terms of miles per charge, and how “eco” they were being, James said.
“How far can you get between a charge before you have to charge again, and what’s the miles-per-gallon equivalence,” she said. “They get really excited about that kind of stuff.”
So along with the introduction of the 2017 Chevrolet Volt, the manufacturer will soon offer e-drivers a leaderboard, where they will be able to compare stats with Volt drivers across the country, and see how they are doing in comparison to everyone else — a sort of “High Score” list.
“There are behaviors that we like to promote, that our customers might latch onto, and [we think about] what are some ways to convince them to do that, that aren’t nagging, like ‘Put your seatbelt on,’” James said. “Gamers, and people who create games, know how to get you to do things by rewarding you in the right way and making the experience compelling. I think that we have so much to learn about that.”
James, who has been in GM’s Palo Alto, Calif. office since it opened in 2007, is part of a four-person team that’s known as the “eyes and ears on the ground’ for GM in Silicon Valley, tasked with tech-and-trend scouting.
“If we find 20 companies that are working on something, even if it’s outside of automotive, that points to a trend and we had better pay attention to see if that will have an impact,” she said “Because it’s going to become meaningful in life if there’s that many of them, and your car is a big part of your life.”