Honda Dream Drive: In-car Shopping, Marketing, Gamification

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
honda dream drive in car shopping marketing gamification

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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3 of 45 comments
  • Notwhoithink Notwhoithink on Jan 09, 2019

    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?

    • Rick T. Rick T. on Jan 09, 2019

      "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!" Ding! Ding! we have a winner!

  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Jan 09, 2019

    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!

  • CEastwood Seven mil nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight for oil changes and such and the thicker heavy duty gripper gloves from Wally World for most everything else . Hell we used to use no gloves for any of that and when we did it was usually the white cloth gloves bought by the dozen or the gray striped cuff ones for heavy duty use . Old man rant over , but I laugh when I see these types of gloves in a bargain bin at Home Cheapo for 15 bucks a pair !
  • Not Previous Used Car of the Day entries that spent decades in the weeds would still be a better purchase than this car. The sucker who takes on this depreciated machine will learn the hard way that a cheap German car is actually a very expensive way to drive around.
  • Bullnuke Well, production cuts may be due to transport-to-market issues. The MV Fremantle Highway is in a Rotterdam shipyard undergoing repairs from the last shipment of VW products (along with BMW and others) and to adequately fireproof it. The word in the shipping community is that insurance necessary for ships moving EVs is under serious review.
  • Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks
  • Vulpine The issue is really stupidly simple; both names can be taken the wrong way by those who enjoy abusing language. Implying a certain piece of anatomy is a sign of juvenile idiocy which is what triggered the original name-change. The problem was not caused by the company but rather by those who continuously ridiculed the original name for the purpose of VERY low-brow humor.