Insights

The future of auto retailing

Preparing for the evolving mobility ecosystem

How will tomorrow's car salesman sell customers on ridesharing and autonomous vehicles? As the future of mobility arrives, automakers and dealerships may need to rethink their traditional operations to appeal to customers looking for customization and connectedness.

Hardly anyone finds today’s automotive retail experience—researching, contacting the dealership, test driving, financing, and closing the deal—efficient and satisfying. Indeed, just 17 out of more than 4,000 car shoppers in a recent survey said that they were happy with the status quo car-buying process. That’s 17 people, not 17 percent. Auto retailers have acknowledged this dissatisfaction and responded with incremental changes. As other industries become more customer-centric, however, creating a less painful retail experience is increasingly table stakes for carmakers and dealers.

Adding fuel to the fire: the future of personal mobility

The fundamental shifts under way in the mobility ecosystem pose a further challenge to automotive players—indeed, the changes threaten to undermine long-standing assumptions of personal car ownership on which today’s business models are built. In addition to responding to the rising demands of today’s consumers, OEMs and dealers need to prepare for even more transformative changes that will require a reimagining of what it means to be an auto retailer.

Preparing for the future of mobility

The future of mobility poses numerous challenges to automotive retailers. The emergence of autonomous vehicles and, in particular, the rise of shared access will force a rethinking of nearly every aspect of the car buying and ownership process; as more consumers migrate to shared mobility, it could make many established processes irrelevant for a large swath of the population.

Even absent those trends, shifts in consumer expectations will compel auto retailers to focus more on relationships and experiences than on vehicle performance. OEMs and dealers need to undertake a clear-eyed assessment of their businesses to decide “where should they play” and “how should they win” in the future mobility ecosystem.

The new mobility ecosystem offers OEMs and dealers numerous opportunities and choices when it comes to deciding where to play. However, to survive the mobility transformation and thrive in tomorrow’s world, OEMs and dealers must begin to act soon. The advanced capabilities necessary for the future may seem far down the road, but the foundations upon which they will lie can—and must—be built today.

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