Dealers have been lulled asleep by the franchise model," says one dealer principal. "Dealers have had the luxury of being reliant on the manufacturers to set the pace and to lead the charge."
That's a recipe for failure in a future where the role and business model for auto retailing change drastically — toward mobility services and away from straightforward vehicle sales — he warned.
"Dealers that will be successful will partner or lead" in determining what the "future of retail looks like," he said.
The following predictions are based on interviews with dozens of dealers and other auto-retailing-related experts. Most spoke off the record.
There was broad agreement on several points:
The sales and financing part of the business model will change.
Service will remain an important part of the business.
Dealerships will look quite different physically.
There will be fewer of them.
While there's no certainty that all of the predictions will come true, it is certain that today's dealership model — based primarily on selling one vehicle at a time to individuals and then servicing those cars and trucks — won't emerge unscathed in a world of shared, autonomous, electrified vehicles.
Here's what an industry observer may see in 2030.