The Car Is More Highly Regarded Today Than Before The Pandemic

The Car Is More Highly Regarded Today Than Before The Pandemic

Jun. 10, 2021

  • The Automotive Innovation Lab was created in a collaborative space for research, analysis and debate on the future of the automotive industry, bringing together Accenture Interactive, Atresmedia, Automobile Barcelona, Droga5, Google, Grupo Antolín, IESE, RACC, SEATS.A. and Shackleton.
  • AIL members have presented their first initiative, the European Automotive Consumer Research, an investigation initiative undertaken in Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom to analyse the impact of the pandemic on what Europeans feel, think and do about cars and their mobility.

This morning, at CASA SEAT, the Automotive Innovation Lab (AIL) was presented, a space for research, reflection, debate and analysis on the automotive sector on an international scale, promoted by Shackleton, together with Accenture Interactive, Atresmedia, Automobile Barcelona, Droga5, Google, Grupo Antolín, IESE, RACC and SEAT S.A.

The automotive sector is experiencing the greatest revolution in its history: electrification, digitisation, new urban mobility, e-commerce, post-Covid consumer behaviour, etc. Against this backdrop, AIL is committed to bringing together some of the most innovative companies interested in the future of the automotive industry to face the challenges of coming years and to understand what the relationship between people and cars will be like. 

The Automotive Innovation Lab will work in four areas:

  • Research. It will delve into the social, perceptual, declarative, digital and market reality to get an accurate picture of consumers and their context.
  • Data. It will identify which data predict, which confirm, and which segment, in the new cookieless context.
  • Insights. It will look for new paths, new touchpoints of connection points and new needs to address.
  • Inspiration. It will carefully listen and follow new consumer behaviours and trends and new initiatives in other industries.

The AIL board is made up of: 

José Ramón Alonso, Managing Director - Accenture Interactive; Jaime Díez Nogueira, Corporate Social Marketing Director - Atresmedia; Jose Miguel García Guirado, Director of the Auto Mobile - Automobile Show (Fira Barcelona); Dylan Williams, Chief Strategy Officer - Droga 5; David Santamaría, Head of Industry - Telco, Energy & Auto; Jose María Pérez Sastre, Strategic Partnerships and Jorge López, Industry Manager - Google; Jorge Álvarez-Naveiro, Head of Brand, Marketing, Communication & Alliances - Grupo Antolin; Alejandro Lago, Professor of Technology & Operations Management - IESE; Miquel Roca, Marketing Director - RACC; Jason Lusty, Global Chief Marketing Director – SEAT S.A.; Pablo Alzugaray, CEO and Joaquim Ramis Automotive Marketing Lead - Shackleton.

Miquel Roca, AIL board member, said:

“The AIL initiative is important because it brings together relevant entities from the automotive and mobility services sector, such as the RACC. We are facing a challenge, that of the transformation in the way we move. The RACC is directly involved in it with the aim of promoting new solutions that are safe, sustainable, intelligent and compatible with economic progress”.


Joaquim Ramis, AIL board member, said:

“In the context of change and disruption that the automotive sector, and mobility in general, are currently undergoing, it is exciting to launch a platform like the Automotive Innovation Lab, a collaborative space, with diverse visions that enrich the project, in addition to fostering valuable personal learning. It focuses on people, their thoughts and motivations, for me the keys to real changes. Finally, its global perspective makes it a unique Project.”


Pablo Alzugaray, AIL board member, said:

“I think that Automotive Innovation Lab’s key difference is its multifaceted approach; it is not the car industry talking about the car industry, but rather the future of cars and mobility viewed from different perspectives: that of the drivers, the technology, road safety, information, communication and, of course, the manufacturers”.


European Automotive Consumer Research: "People, cars and mobility after the pandemic"

The AIL's first action was to conduct large-scale research to analyse the impact of the pandemic on what Europeans feel, think and do about cars and their mobility. 

This study, led by Fjord on behalf of the Automotive Innovation Lab, consists of a quantitative phase, with 2,000 interviews in Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom, preceded by a qualitative phase with in-depth interviews. 
It will be carried out every two years, allowing the changes and trends in these behaviours to be compared over time. This first edition focused on three main research areas: first, how the pandemic has influenced the relationship between people, their cars and driving; second, how people's mentality and behaviours towards mobility have evolved; and finally, it focused on determining what attitudes have changed regarding mobility and which ones are here to stay.

Different insights have been drawn from all this:

  • The increased sense of fragility has added the dimension of health safety to many attitudes and behaviours. Avoiding risks as a new dimension of mobility. Risk evaders.
  • The car has become a safe haven for people to escape the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Car as a Cocooning Space. The emotional part of the car has gained prominence compared to its more rational and utilitarian aspect.
  • Covid-19 has created tension between the benefits of owning a car and concerns over its environmental impact. People are looking more intently for guilt-free driving options that reconcile personal and environmental needs. Non-guilty mobility.
  • The study has also yielded various conclusions:
  • Respondents say they want to maintain the new mobility habits acquired during the pandemic. 55% have incorporated the habit of walking and 40% have increased the use of bicycles, as these are healthy mobility options.
  • Many people are considering starting a new, more balanced way of living, fostered by working remotely. 38% of Europeans are thinking of moving from the city centre to suburban or rural areas. New countryside people.
  • The car is linked to "independence". 60% appreciate having access to their own car now more than before the pandemic. Specifically, the British express this sentiment the most (65%), and the French do so the least (53%). People have also started to view cars as an extension of their home (51%).
  • The idea of owning a car has been reinforced, and the study concluded that this trend will be on the rise over the next few years. 47% of Europeans who before the pandemic said they didn't need a car, would rather have one now, and 70% can't imagine their life without it.
  • Even though most people would rather own a car, 42% said they would be interested in a subscription service, but that the price would be one of the most decisive factors.
  • The pandemic has created a rift between the need for cars as safe spaces and increased environmental awareness. 46% say that Covid-19 has made them more aware of the environmental impact of combustion cars.
  • The appeal of electric cars has gone up, which consumers associate with "social status" and an "aura of luxury". Almost half of all Europeans (44%) aspire to own one, and of those, 45% plan to buy one in the next three years. 
  • On a related note, the respondents view electric cars as the best solution to reduce the environmental impact of driving. This was the opinion of 68% of Spaniards. In Germany, this figure is just 32%, as it is a more mature market with a larger number of electric cars in its car fleet. The respondents there are also more aware of the negative effects of batteries (changes every 4-5 years, waste, lithium, etc.).
  • Even though the pandemic has made consumers more open to doing the entire car-buying process online (36%), a person's advice is still highly valued (66%) as a trust factor.

Jorge Álvarez-Naveiro AIL board member, said:

“New forms of mobility are completely transforming the vehicle interiors. This interior will be a new living area in which we can work, relax or connect while we move around. A space that will also be a bubble of health, wellbeing, and safety for everyone. At Grupo Antolin, we are working to develop a smart interior thanks to innovative solutions”.


The study, projects, news and latest developments of the Automotive Innovation Lab will all be available on its website. It also has a LinkedIn page so that everyone who is interested can stay current with project updates and news from the automotive sector.

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