The future of mobility as described in January at the Automotive News World Congress and CES involves smart consumers plugging smartphones into smart vehicles to navigate smart cities.
But where do dealers fit into this emerging digital ecosystem?
Indeed, this future raises an essential question for dealers and for the National Automobile Dealers Association: What actions are needed to keep dealerships relevant in a world where everything vehicle- and mobility-related is connected, but not necessarily through dealerships?
Vehicle and tech company senior executives describe ecosystems pulsing with actionable information on customer preferences and vehicle and infotainment use, as well as buying or sharing intentions — all revealing unmet needs. But this is presented with only minimal acknowledgment that dealership entrepreneurs succeed because of their deep local insight.
Thus, there is a huge gap between dealers' perspective of the future — seen from their physical locations and existing relationships — and designs for mobility ecosystems, where everything is connected and free-flowing.
Dealership owners cannot be complacent at this juncture. The mobility future is only a threat to them if they become disconnected from the mesh of data collaborations that are forming.
The threat is not merely from high-tech disrupters but from senior industry executives and consultants looking for digital approaches to new profit centers without the involvement of current retailers.