As the automotive sector delivers experiences previously better known in consumer technology, the Experiences Per Mile Advisory Council developed the ‘EPM Index’. This metric evaluates the in-vehicle experience and is intended to help consumers make purchasing decisions, while also making it easier for automotive players to understand changing consumer demands. EPM Advisory Council member Tom Rivers, vice president of global automotive marketing at Harman International, explains.
Just Auto (YES): What is the Experiences Per Mile (EPM) Index? Why does the EPM Advisory Council consider this necessary?
Tom Rivers (TR): The auto industry is moving from valuing the traditional criteria of horsepower and RPM to one where the in-vehicle experience is valued more highly. Previously, a consumer asked ‘how fast can I go from 0 to 60?’ when I want to buy a vehicle, but such questions are now ‘how can this vehicle improve my commute?’ or ‘can I access my important content on the go?’. Electrification and the advancement of autonomy amplify this shift.
While consumers can find a list of individual features and functions offered in a vehicle, the purpose of the Experiences Per Mile Index – or EPM Index – is to provide a holistic evaluation of how effectively a vehicle is providing users with a positive and satisfying experience. The stat scores the vehicle from 0-100 based on its ability to meet the user’s experience goals for various types of travel, such as commuting, running errands, giving others lifts, or excursions and road trips. This is a top-notch rating that sees the in-cab experience as a real value added value, and we believe it can become a valuable tool to support consumers’ purchasing decisions and help OEMs customize their interiors. cabin offerings to the user’s requirements.
YES: How is the metric calculated?
TR: The formula for the EPM Index was developed following an exploratory study by IPSOS, commissioned by the EPM Advisory Council, in which SUV owners evaluated how well their experience goals had been met for a particular trip type. The experience goals include: connect, be productive, feel good, de-stress/relax, entertain and find privacywhile the travel types, as mentioned, focus on commuting, grocery shopping, giving others lifts, and road trips. This experiential net score is multiplied by the importance or weighting of that goal for a particular trip type. The sum of the weighted scores calculates the EPM Index.
For example, the commuter travel type prioritizes the experiential goals of feeling good, finding privacy, and connecting and communicating with others. A vehicle can be very good at delivering all of these experiences, resulting in a high EPM index of the maximum score of 100. However, if a consumer uses their vehicle most regularly to lift others, they may value more de-stress and entertain while on the go. They instead need a vehicle with a high EPM index that targets these goals. Each vehicle model has an EPM Index score for each trip type.
JA: What is the purpose of this? Will it apply to every vehicle or piece of technology?
TR: The concept is that every new vehicle model that comes on the market is given an EPM Index rating so that consumers can make comparable comparisons before purchasing a vehicle. It gives a score on the overall trip or trip type level, rather than rating different features or technologies. A consumer can focus on their most common travel types and look for vehicles that rank highly for those trips and purposes. Someone who collects a lot of business miles will look for a vehicle with a high score for commuting, while those who want a suitable family car may want a vehicle that gets high marks for both giving lifts to others and for road trips.
JA: How do you see this being used in a retail environment?
TR: The vision of the EPM Advisory Council is that every new vehicle model will have an EPM Index rating that can be sold by the OEM or by retailers, making it incredibly easy for consumers to access and cross-reference during the purchase process .
YES: How do OEMs react to this?
TR: Several OEMs, including major global players, are represented on the EPM Advisory Council, such as Ford, GM, Hyundai, Nissan, Polaris and Stellantis. From what we see, like Harman, they recognize the shifting emphasis from individual features and functions to the importance of the overall experience to users, how it integrates into their daily lives and works seamlessly with their other devices. These OEMs are committed to measuring and seeing how it has the potential to build a better understanding and stronger brand relationships with the younger and emerging generations of motorists.
It will also be a useful tool for OEMs to assess where they are today with their current offerings, compare it to consumer demand and understand how they can develop future vehicles and their offerings to meet those experience requirements of to satisfy the consumer.
YES: BMW has recently been criticized for posting features behind a paywall. Would subscription-based features be rated within the EPM Index rating? What is Harman’s view of OEMs taking this approach to features?
TR: The initial investigation by the EPM Advisory Board was exploratory in nature. It contained features that were important to consumers based on other studies analyzing EPM, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Future features, such as features behind a paywall, would be evaluated for future studies as we see changes in the experience provided by different OEMs.
JA: What is the next step to implement such an initiative across the industry? What are the challenges?
TR: An industry-wide implementation of an EPM score is now being evaluated. This is decided in consultation with the members of the EPM Advisory Council of various companies in the sector. When it is ready for the market, it will be announced. Many of the challenges have been addressed with the exploratory research. The EPM Advisory Board evaluates the interest of the OEMs and ensures that it is sufficiently focused to support the product planning process. We expect it to be useful to several industry contributors as mentioned.
The EPM Index report can be downloaded from: EPM Advisory Council | Automotive Solutions | Experiences per mile Experiences per mile