Getting a driver’s license doesn’t mean people smoothly become skilled drivers. How might we provide assistance for new drivers in order to overcome their driving challenges? Nopi, an invisible driving companion, helps new drivers to drive more confidently and safely throughout the key moments of their driving journeys.

Yaxin Zheng
Yinxuan Zhou
Deepu James
frog design, eHi Car Services
PEST analysis of car rental market
Car rental is one of the industries that recovered quickly after the pandemic and created new opportunities to nurture new users. The market size in China is expected to reach £8.6 billion in 2021. China has issued guiding opinions on promoting the car rental market mainly based on the principles of safety, innovation, supervision and formulated a series of measures to promote the industry, like improving online and offline service capabilities. People spend more money on transport, which helps upgrade travel consumption and benefit the development of the car rental industry. China has far more drivers than cars. Besides this, changing attitudes from vehicle ownership to mobility-as-a-service between new generations also boosted the car rental market. New technologies like 5G, blockchain and AI, bring opportunities for platform upgrades and acceleration in the coordinated development of upstream and downstream industries.
Car rental scenarios

Car rental scenarios can be classified into different segments based on time and distance, such as commuting, touring, attending weddings, etc. We decided to focus on a user group of new drivers: people who have a driving license but do not yet own a car, and those who aren’t skilled in driving. The group of rental car users for practicing drivers accounts for 18.7% of the car rental market. Currently, 46% of drivers in China don’t own cars. Also, the number of newly licensed drivers was 29,430,000 in 2019. These three key figures supported our design direction. Our problem statement stood as follows: How might we provide assistance to new drivers so they can overcome their anxieties around driving?

Platform overview

Our service is designed to help new drivers drive more confidently and safely throughout the key moments of their driving journeys. We have four design principles: 1. Supportive - we support new drivers during the whole driving process; 2. Comfortable - we don’t judge and shout at people. We want to create a comfortable environment for new drivers to get on the road; 3. Safe - All things should be done safely; 4. Fun - We don’t want to bore people. We want the experience to be fun. Our service covers the whole journey, before, during, and after. In the before stage, we design a novice tutorial to guide new drivers become familiar with their rental car. In the during stage, we provide emergency services to drivers if unexpected things happen. In the after stage, we use comment boards to connect people and receive customer feedback.

Introduction to NOPI

This is our service, NOPI, an invisible driving companion for new drivers. It contains novice tutorials, emergency services, and comment boards. 1. Novice tutorial: you can open the app to pair a phone with NOPI when getting in your car. You can follow this novice tutorial to become familiar with the car. After that, NOPI will guide you to start your trip. 2. Emergency services: if unexpected things happen to you when driving and you don't understand how to resolve it, you can follow AI tips step-by-step or call the eHI customer service hotline directly. 3. Comment board: when you end your trip, NOPI will play the voice left by the last passenger automatically, and you could also record your voice to surprise the next passenger or give us feedback.

Value propositions of our service

Over the course of the pandemic, people’s mobility behavior and attitudes have changed. But the fundamental value propositions underlying the new mobility have not changed, this is a demand for reliable, accessible, and affordable mobility. The value propositions for new drivers are: 1. Overcome driving fears; 2. Practice driving skills; 3. Be supported and accompanied while driving. The value propositions for eHI are: 1. Nurture new group car-renting behaviours; 2. Build a distinctive brand image.

Feasibility + viability of our service

We received 214 responses from eHi’s users. 44% prefer to call for help to eHi when accidents happen. 34% of people would accept AI tips. And 22% of people say emotions, like anxiety, also need to be cared for after things happen. We iterated our demo after prototyping with stakeholders and real users. Our business model is “prior embedded hardware + pay-to-unlock software service”, an emerging business model in China’s Car manufacturing industry because of the low cost and high profit. The image shows the cost and profit of our service. eHi has more than 6,000 service branches in more than 450 cities and owns more than 200 types of vehicles in China. So it might be a profitable business for eHi.

special thanks

A huge thank you to all the people we met during our final project journey. To Jonny Jiang, our RCA tutor, for his guidance and kindness. To Genda Lin, our mentor from frog design, for his insightful suggestions and help. To Raymond, Chen Yu, and Ze from eHi for their continued support and feedback.