AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
The automotive industry feels like it is changing more quickly than ever before. The influx of electric vehicles, showroom digitalisation, innovative new leasing options, the emergence of direct-to-consumer sales models which effectively by-pass the more traditional retail channels – they have created huge amounts of confusion in the industry. Everyone agrees the car industry is changing but even the most experienced automotive professionals don’t know with any certainty how the future will look.
TESLA: BOLD OR RECKLESS?
Tesla’s recent announcement that it is closing its stores feels like a major move. Tesla has always flown in the face of convention from its showroom locations to its in-store employees. But the decision to actually shut the showrooms to drive cost savings is akin to bringing the queen out into the middle of the chessboard at the start of the game. Will Elon’s move be a masterstroke or will it be a reckless strategy that plays into the hands of its more traditional competitors? Only time will tell.
MOBILE SHOWCASES: HELPING ONLINE SALES
On hearing the Tesla news, one question immediately springs to mind – will Tesla offer any real-world touch points? Will the journey be entirely a digital one – are consumers ready for that? One solution is to have a low-cost, mobile alternative to bricks and mortar. A mobile solution would remove the nervousness of customers that need the human touch during the sales process and give them reassurance that there’s a real person they can speak to if they have a problem. A fantastic example of this is the Porsche In Motion initiative in Australia – a perfect mobile embodiment of the Porsche brand allowing consumers to have the showroom experience in their own playground.
If Tesla is building the bridge to a new way of buying cars it will increase the pressure on traditional dealership. How can they survive? One practical solution is to increase the size of the dealer’s territory – eradicating the poor-performing dealerships and giving a larger territory to the better performing dealers. Giving dealers a larger geography to serve increases their potential customer base, but creates a similar headache to Tesla’s. How will the dealers be able to offer a tangible, real-world experience to customers located at the periphery of the geographical boundary? Again, a mobile satellite solution might be the answer.
WHAT NEXT FOR OEMS?
For the OEMs pursuing their direct-to-consumer channel, they too, need to be able to have an offering which is at the client’s convenience. If the local dealership is no longer there, then event-based relationship building will be even more important. Going to the playground of the consumer and giving them a memorable experience is a must unless they feel bold enough to adopt the Tesla model. And what about test drives? Most people want to see how the vehicle drives – again, mobile test-drive centres which are agile and focused on providing a hassle-free test-drive experience will surely play a role in the new automotive constellation.
IS AMAZON LICKING ITS LIPS?
Tesla might also open the door for Amazon. If Tesla can really crack a pure online sales model then Amazon will be rubbing its hands stage left. As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm, but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.
Jonathan Bramley is the Managing Director of The Clear Idea, a company that specialises in helping automotive brands engage with customers in non-traditional environments. Their services include structure design, manufacture and roadshow execution.
The Clear Idea’s clients include Amazon, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, McLaren, Mercedes, Mini, Porsche.
More information can be found at www.theclearidea.com