Is it a Home? Is it a Phone? No, it’s the Dodge Grand Caravan

Having recently written about Tesla Motors and some of the ways in which cars are becoming more like computers, I was amused to see the current ad campaign for the Dodge Grand Caravan.  It uses two taglines; “more multimedia than your home”, and “a smart phone that seats seven”.

The minivan:home equivalence is hardly new but I am interested that the unit of equivalence (the way in which the comparison is made possible) is digital technology rather than furniture and function.  The minivan used to be like the home because of its ability to mimic different home-based activities that have been traditionally supported by distinct room types (eating in the dining room, watching TV in the sitting room, sleeping in the bedroom).  But this ad seems to suggest that this is becoming old hat. Consuming media and food can be done together, and nowadays most often is, so why bother having a separate dining room? Might chairs make more effective sleeping platforms than beds? Might the home become more like a minivan rather than vice-versa?

The minivan:smart phone equivalence is newer and its easy to imagine an agency creative getting all excited by the insight that the minivan is the ultimate in mobile technology (geddit???!!).  Actually I thought it was rather clever too. We’ve obviously had multimedia in the car for ages now, but something more interesting is lurking behind the obvious. If the car is becoming increasingly more digital and therefore increasingly more like other things that are also becoming more digital (like the phone, the home, the computer, etc.), then it also becomes increasingly more programmable.  What might it mean to have downloadable car apps?  I don't mean apps as part of a multi-media in-car infotainment platform, as envisaged for example by VW’s newly launched “App My Ride” open innovation challenge.  I mean, what if you could download apps for the car itself?  What if you could program the car? Car:Robot equivalence here we come.