Roadshow

Honda Dream Drive pays you for driving

Ever think maybe sitting in traffic isn't so bad? Nah.

We aren't even close to having fully autonomous cars yet, but the march toward in-car commerce has already begun, with Honda's Dream Drive platform as the latest evidence.

Dream Drive is a set of cloud services in the car divided into relevant groups for drivers or passengers. It's similar to GM's Marketplace but broader and more ambitious.

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The driver's services include movie times and tickets from Atom Tickets, in-dash gas purchases at Chevron and Phillips 66 stations, food and drink orders at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or via Grubhub, and location sharing via Glympse, all paid for with a stored Visa, MasterCard or Paypal authorization. 

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The depiction of an older driver in Honda's Dream Drive press materials is prescient: It's less likely that younger drivers will embrace a set of services and merchants that a carmaker thinks make sense.

Honda

The passenger services are a little more inventive, including some form of mixed reality gameplay related to the vehicle's journey, original comics with Honda-exclusive story lines from DC Comics, media from Lego and recommendations from AAA of interesting or useful things along your route. And, of course, there will be merchants whose stuff you can buy in a sort of virtual mall with points earned by driving your Honda. That takes a page from the credit card loyalty playbook with its catalogs of partner merchandise, the value of which is always hard to determine thanks to obscure points-to-dollar translations.

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Custom content from the likes of DC Comics is an interesting wrinkle in the in-car services game, which mostly consists of warmed-over offerings that already saturate the phone.

Honda

Sounds like a lot of distraction? Well, that happens when you introduce commerce and rich media to the car, but Dream Drive's admittedly clean interface and the use of voice should keep distraction to a manageable level. Interestingly, the voice command will not be Amazon, Google or Apple but Honda's own in-car platform. That feels like a page from the year 2010 to me, but I'm open to be wowed by a voice platform that can really excel when limited to a narrow universe. 

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Route enrichment services in Honda Dream Drive will include some level of mixed-reality entertainment, as well as recommendations from AAA. The former is cutting edge, the latter a bit staid.

Honda

Dream Drive is currently in beta testing and I think the better part of valor would be spending time to hone near-perfect voice support, elegantly integrated merchants that feel top-tier, and services that get me all the way there, not just part of the way. That goes for any carmaker embarking on in-vehicle commerce, not just Honda and GM.