“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” Steve Jobs
From zero-emission flying taxis to the rise of electric vehicles, the car industry is entering a brave new world. Now more than ever, it is there for the taking. Doc Brown’s flying DeLorean has almost landed and how the industry negotiates technology and human intervention, will define its future. But just as savvy innovators and tech geeks make a solar-powered-robot-fisted land grab for its jugular, the industry’s lifeblood remains the same; car dealers.
As the wheels of innovation spin relentlessly around them, these great survivors have steadfastly remained a constant source of comfort; and occasional consternation. They are the gears that drive our industry, but their roles are evolving and they must adapt.
The FCA revealed earlier this year that it was assessing the motor finance industry because it was “concerned that there may be a lack of transparency, potential conflicts of interest and irresponsible lending”. To complicate matters, a major sea change in data protection will enter the UK market in May 2018, when the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force. The industry is under scrutiny and many dealers could be forgiven for thinking they are on borrowed time.
The traditional car-buying experience is being modernised, regulated and moved online. Those days of trudging aimlessly around unfamiliar dealership forecourts, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, will soon be a thing of the past. Time-pressed consumers want transparency and efficiency, executed within a modern retail environment. A more seamless purchasing experience is upon us and new technologies are allowing businesses to play a more proactive and positive role in consumer journeys; before, during and after they have left the forecourt.