By on January 8, 2019

Expanding on last year’s concept, Honda is reintroducing “Dream Drive” for this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Previously a platform intended to provide passengers with augmented and virtual reality experiences, Double D now focuses primarily on in-car purchases. In fact, the service seems identical to General Motors’ Marketplace.

That’s right, Honda is entering the dark realm of in-car consumerism and twisted corporate partnerships.

The automaker is already working with Mastercard, Visa, and PayPal to build Dream Drive into a reality. As a byproduct, stored credit card information should make shopping while driving a little safer. Unfortunately, this kind of service comes with a host of issues that leaves us feel more than a little nervous.

Honda is keen to assuage our fears.

The biggest issue is safety. Paying for fuel and parking from the comfort of the driver’s seat is fine, but Honda also wants people to be able to make last-minute reservations at their favorite restaurant or shop for movie tickets while on the go. While this may be convenient, we’re not convinced it’s any safer than someone trying to manage the same activity via their phone.

The manufacturer handles with this by minimizing visual distractions and trying to implement voice commands wherever possible. Many features can be accessed by saying “OK, Honda,” plus the applicable request. It’s not clear how robust this aspect of Dream Drive will be.

Honda is partnering with companies like Chevron, Phillips 66, AAA, Parkopedia, Arrive, Atom Tickets, Grubhub and Yelp to handle the new business, but it’s also dealing with Univision Music, iHeartRadio, Silvergate Media, DC and Lego Group to build a media library to occupy restless passengers. Everything from music to comics to games are said to be available once the services officially launches.

While Dream Drive is still technically just a prototype, it’s one the automaker and its partners are throwing a lot of weight behind. The system is already compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

We imagine Honda, and just about every other industry player, will have their own in-car shopping service long before autonomous driving technology make such a service truly safe to use. But safety isn’t the only issue that needs to be addressed.

In-car marketing is poised to become a real problem, and soon. As safe as Honda and General Motors want to make these systems, their business partners will no doubt want to duke it out for preferential treatment in the menus to ensure you buy from them. This could swiftly evolve into some very distracting center displays if the automakers can’t exercise restraint.

Honda also said it wants to bake in some kind of rewards program. How exactly this would work is unclear at this stage. Presumably, repeated transactions will garner some kind of financial benefit toward subsequent in-car purchases. However, there is also some gamification going on with the Dream Drive app that simply awards passengers and drivers with “points” just for using it. Those points can be collected and used for … something.

“The gamification of everyday travel experiences with rewards points provides Honda with a unique opportunity to connect with its drivers and passengers, to establish a more personal engaging relationship with them, and to enhance customers’ daily lives with the automotive industry’s first frequent driving and riding program,” explained Bryan Biniak, CEO of Connected Travel. “Honda drivers and passengers earn points from common activities as well as extraordinary experiences created with market leading brands and developers, and then redeem their reward points at their favorite local and online retailers.”

Honestly, we don’t think Honda knows at this point. But it’s likely learned from mobile games using predatory micro-transactions that parsing out rewards over time is a good way to keep customers invested. Better to have the system in place and not use it than ignore a potential money-making scheme during the development phase.

There are also inherent security concerns associated with vehicles that are perpetually connected to the internet, endlessly transmitting data into the ether. But Honda says it’s tackling this problem with all the seriousness in the world. Of course, we wouldn’t expect an automaker to say otherwise.


[Images: Honda]

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45 Comments on “Honda Dream Drive: In-car Shopping, Marketing, Gamification...”

  • avatar

    Also, head-on collisions.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I will actively avoid any such technology in any vehicle I buy. If I can’t avoid it, the plug gets pulled on the wireless connection as soon as I take possession of the car or truck. I already advise my friends to do this with the OnStar box in GM vehicles. But I know it’s a losing battle. Americans just can’t seem to help themselves.

  • avatar

    As someone who sells cars for a living, I can tell you that exactly zero people are asking for this kind of technology. Most clients are already completely overwhelmed by the delivery experience in a moderately well equipped vehicle and wonder, “When I am ever going to use all of this?”. Until AI and voice recognition improve to the point where you can engage in a normal conversation with these kinds of features while on the go, they will remain more trouble than they are worth and a DANGEROUS distraction.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. I used to train the salespeople at new car stores and it’s hard enough to get some of the staff to understand how advanced tech systems work, let alone explain it to a customer.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks you for telling it like it is.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      Seven years ago I went with my recently-widowed Mom to try out an MDX for her. All that the salesman talked about was the navigation. It was all he demonstrated, too. I knew more about the damned thing than he did. She bought an A4 – primarily because it could be had with a manual but partly due to the horrible Acura experience. As an added detriment the salesman had the lower hem of his shirt sticking out of his pants zipper. Classy. I later found out that he was the top salesman – and by a large margin.

    • 0 avatar

      Not to mention that everyone is already carrying a supercomputer in their pocket in the form of a smartphone. Why do we need to duplicate what your smart phone does in your car? If your driving you should bloody well be driving and if you’re in the passenger seat you can use your damn phone.

  • avatar

    Honda, why? You were one of the good ones. Hopefully this is optional or something you can opt out of. Are manufacturers this desperate for profit?

  • avatar

    Hmm, so in-app purchases will be the model? That makes the imagination run wild.

    Just one possibility: You get to the store, complete your shopping, get back in the car, and the display says, “Next trip available in 7:42:13. Skip ahead for 8 gems?” You click on “Yes”. But you only have 5 gems. So you are directed to the “Dream Drive Market”, where you have the option of buying the missing 3 gems for $2.99. Or would you like to buy a “Honda Hoard” of 100 gems for $89.99? You decide to buy the mid-range option of 20 gems for $18.99. Then your trip home can proceed.

  • avatar

    I go out of my way to avoid buying products like this. I already have computing devices in every size shape and configuration. I don’t need any more, especially while driving, and they often come with more problems and complexity than they’re worth. Honda and GM would do well to spend their money and time elsewhere if they want me to buy any of their vehicles.

    All I need a car to do is take phone calls and play audio from a remote source as long as I’m driving it, and as soon as I’m not I’ll read a book or use a laptop. Automakers should remember that I don’t start driving in order to use an app, I just want to get somewhere or enjoy driving itself.

  • avatar

    I wish my car could identify the nearest gas station with a working air hose.

    • 0 avatar

      So much yes to this. Although it’s more likely your car will tell you to go to your nearest OEM service center for some nitrogen and the alignment and balancing you didn’t know you needed.

    • 0 avatar

      @watersketch: “I wish my car could identify the nearest gas station with a working air hose.”

      Be careful, or your modern car will identify as a bicycle. Or a planter.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Well it looks to have a volume knob, so there is that I suppose

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Well it has a volume dial so that’s a win I guess!

  • avatar

    This is starting to remind me of the decline of BMW. The introduction of the E65 745i seems like the watershed moment when BMW abandoned knowledgeable enthusiasts, but the handwriting was one the wall when the recyclable E36s were introduced in 1992, and Chris Bangle justifying the Buick dashboards of the E46s as having ‘active ergonomics’ instead of prioritized controls should have been taken more seriously. Run-flat tires on cars once known for ride and handling? Did Honda stop being Honda when they began fitting CVTs? VCM that cost more to own than it could ever save in fuel? Direct injected turbos that were interpretations of other people’s terrible ideas? When did polarizing styling become part of their brand? Now they want a marketing assault on their customers while driving?

  • avatar

    Insert “Minority Report” and “Ready Player One” references here.

  • avatar

    Rest in peace, Honda

  • avatar

    This is great news for people who are living in their car.

  • avatar

    I’m beginning to embrace my curmudgeonly nature with this. I already avoid social media as much as possible to avoid adverts, I only watch Netflix to avoid commercials and I hardly ever answer my phone. And here are more things that I’ll struggle to actively ignore.

    Since I’ve upgraded the Mazda to run Android Auto, I can’t think of a single thing that I really want out of a car.

  • avatar

    Mods, why are all of my comments saying awaiting moderation? Thanks.

  • avatar

    So Honda has gone to the dark side. This is what they want, having customers all be a bunch of little zombies “shopping” while they are driving. Shame. I’m proud to be a Honda guy but that extends only to the end of the 2007 model year. The company has lost its way.

  • avatar

    This will bring in hundreds of dollars in revenue!

  • avatar

    I can’t imagine anyone in any marketing focus group has asked for this. Everyone has a damn phone to conduct whatever business they want. Here’s a notice to all the automakers, give up on your proprietary infotainment and give everyone what they want, a monitor to mirror our smartphone screen.
    I’m sure they’ll all keep up with the subscription services in an effort to drive profit. I’m tired of having 107 usernames and services that don’t connect or share information.
    When’s the last time anyone called Onstar to ask for navigation directions?

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Several years ago I went with my recently-widowed Mom to try out an MDX for her. All that the salesman talked about was the navigation. It was all he demonstrated, too. I knew more about the thing than he did. She subsequently bought an A4 – primarily because it could be had with a manual but partly due to the horrible Acura experience. As an added detriment the salesman had the lower hem of his shirt sticking out of his pants zipper. Classy. I later found out that he was the top salesman – and by a large margin.

  • avatar

    May be it is stupid move but it’s still a Honda. So people will buy it – it is the most reliable brand in the world so there cannot be any safety or other issues. GM in other hand … is a different story. I have zero confidence in GM products.

  • avatar

    A fact similar to half the population having less than a 100 IQ is that there are millions of Americans who will love and use this.

  • avatar

    Not what comes to mind when I hear ‘Double D.’

  • avatar

    Everything Honda says and does is so juvenile…Like the company is run by 12 year old girls.

  • avatar

    OK, I had to look up “gamification”. Just stop it marketing people.

    I didn’t know the term, and I do game development for a G-D living!

    This is a horrible idea. Just pull over safely and use your phone.

    Automakers want all this extra crap in the cars that will only distract drivers. I used to have a touchscreen in a past vehicle, plus a portable GPS for my other one. Now I just use my phone for both. If most of the population has a smartphone that does the exact same job, why do we need to duplicate it in our cars?

  • avatar

    Great, now we can install apps in our cars that will track us wherever we go and sell that data to whoever wants to pay for it! How much do you want to bet that Facebook will be one of the apps pre-installed on your new Honda? We already have seen stories in the tech press today that the Facebook app that is pre-installed on Samsung phones cannot be uninstalled.

    When will people have had enough? More importantly, when are we going to actually get some consumer privacy protection laws in this country?

  • avatar

    Just scanning the comments before I chime in…

    This’ll never work anyway! Honda has the absolute worst worst voice-recognition in the industry! (At least as far as my 2013, 9th-Gen Accord is concerned, which just like my 2006 before, will crank up the heat when I ask for “trip computer!”)

    And from what I’ve heard, the newer systems aren’t much of an improvement!

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