TO THE EDITOR:
While I agree with most of Gary Silberg’s “‘Islands of autonomy’ on the horizon for U.S. market” (Jan. 29), I want to take the conclusions a step further and outline the potential for automotive retailers.
First, while the conditions as outlined will probably lead to less vehicle sales, vehicles will be driven more and harder: It is predicted that electric, autonomous and ride-share/ride-hail vehicles increase mileage and usage significantly.
This requires more service, potentially at dealerships, as vehicles are getting more complicated to repair. It’s true that if the market were to go all EV tomorrow, those vehicles can go more miles with less service (complicated artificial-intelligence equipment notwithstanding). But even if service dollars drop to about one-fifth of current revenue, if vehicles are driven six times as much (the average consumer vehicle is only in use 4 percent of the time), not all that much is lost.
Second, until vehicles service, maintain and manage themselves, as opposed to just drive themselves, car dealers, well-positioned in all cities with distinct metropolitan centers, or “islands of autonomy,” are a natural to own, maintain and manage these transportation fleets.
I think that these anticipated changes could do well for those car dealers that can adapt and transition from a “profit-per-sale” to a “cents-per-mile” model. It seems the reality today is that only the dealers are making money from current operations, so this future business seems to be theirs to lose by refusing to embrace mobility as a service opportunity.
JOHN F. POSSUMATO, CEO, Automotive Mobile Solutions, Haddonfield, N.J. The writer, a former franchise dealer, is a consultant to automotive retailers on new technologies and mobility as a service business model.