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NICE (No Internal Combustion Engine) is an early-stage startup that seeks to scale the conversions of existing 1970s-1990s cars into electric vehicles (EVs). Surveys, user interviews, and concept tests were designed to define the organization’s user-centered barriers to scale. Results invalidated the current business model but revealed viable pivots.
My Role

UX Research Lead


Project Roadmap Research Strategy Screener Survey Interview Script & Guide Concept Test Design Persona Update Research Report


Total: 6 weeks Recruitment: 3 weeks Research: 2 weeks Synthesis: 1 week


The UX Research represented a third of the overall project goals. During a 10-week fellowship with Climatebase, Founder, Lauryn Morris, recruited 13 fellows (myself included) to evaluate NICE’s current business model in three areas: UX research, market analysis, and environment impact analysis.

NICE’s pilot conversion vehicle, a 1987 Suzuki Samurai, taken several weeks before the project start.

UX Research Goals

  1. Identify the primary user(s) for the NICE business and website. Understand their habits, needs, goals, pain points, and motives. 
  2. Test & evaluate user perception of a shared ownership, subscription-based business model that offers multiple membership tiers, launching in the LA area.

All questions for users and stakeholders were listed in one document and sorted by source type (user interview, stakeholder interview, concept test, and survey).

Who We Spoke With, How & Why…

Screener Survey

Shared across online and in-person channels, including coffee shops, libraries, classic car shows, EV & classic car online forums, Social media. 


  • Collect quantitative data: demographics, current driving habits & needs of people interested in the concept (potential users)
  • Source concept test and user interview candidates

100+ survey respondents were tagged based on…

  • strong reactions to the concept (positive and negative)
  • LA area residents

Tagging process used to prioritize survey respondents for interviews and concept testing. )

User Interviews

Four survey respondents with the most tags were selected as candidates to…

  • thoroughly understand current user driving habits, preferences & needs
  • define user appetite or hesitance to embrace EVs
  • discern motives for interest in converted classics
  • determine if & how the above would affect barriers to scaling NICE

UX Research Questions Document

Interview Guide

Expert Stakeholder Interviews

I also met with the CEO of a related company and a VC scout to comprehend the needs, questions, and priorities of future secondary users of the website.

Concept Tests

Two users were asked to share their thoughts aloud while navigating a clickable, high-fidelity website prototype that allowed visual communication of the business model.

This helped us evaluate user perceptions of the membership model with less bias caused by priming responses with questions.

Concept Test Screens (also below, designed by Chloë Greene), Password: NICEcar

Concept Test Screens, designed by Chloë Greene

Analysis & Synthesis  

Notes from the interview and concept test calls were synthesized with updated user personas (below) and an affinity map that was crafted in a collaborative “Jobs to Be Done” workshop. 

These methods allowed for easy categorization of extensive feedback, streamlined visual communication, and clear definition of business needs.

“Jobs To Be Done Workshop” affinity map snapshot. Workshop led by Haley Harrington and Alex Graebe

Synthesis Deliverables

Major findings and an overview of the UX research process were detailed in a comprehensive report and shared digitally with the full team. The condensed findings were presented in a bi-weekly sprint check-in. 

These key learnings were distilled even further for the final project presentation to the rest of the fellowship cohort. These had to be extremely succinct, as our entire team had 10 minutes to summarize the work of 13 people during an eight-week project. 

View the full project presentation on NICE’s website.

One of three UX Research summary slides presented to the entire Climatebase fellowship.


The overall concept tested well. However, the business model was invalidated

Users who have a regular need for a car expressed little interest and desire for a long-term subscription model, preferring ownership. 

However, the findings also revealed opportunities to pivot the business model. Users expressed interest in…

  • short-term rentals for special occasions at home or while traveling. 
  • B2B options that offer the car via partnerships with boutique travel organizations.

Recommendations to NICE

  • Repeat methods & edit user interview questions to assess short-term rentals.
  • Interview & concept test users who view car ownership as a burden but need occasional access (ie: NYC residents).
  • Interview users who travel with mid-to-high-end tours or use travel planning services. Interview more expert stakeholders who work for these kinds of companies and can represent their interest in forming partnerships

20-20 Hindsight

A large pool of survey respondents allowed us to select interview participants who reflected the hypothesized target demographic

In hindsight, the income question on the screener survey should have offered more options above $250k+. Specific segmentation of higher-income households, especially those with kids or other financial responsibilities, would have been insightful.

View the full UX Research Report

Visit NICE’s Live Website


Lauryn Morris, Founder

Emma Roach, Quantitative Research Synthesis & User Interview Support

Haley Harrington, Competition Analysis & Synthesis Workshop Facilitation

Chloë Greene, Art Director