With the 2017 North American International Auto Show came a focused discussion on both the success of shared car services like Uber and autonomous vehicles, two areas that seem destined to combine at some point in the not-so-distant future.
Caddilac revealed the creation of Book, a subscription service allowing a customer to pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited use of the automaker's lineup. Ford's Chairman Bill Ford remarked that shared services could provide a revenue stream "Unlike they have seen". Add that to GM's sizable investment in Lyft and it's clear that automakers are hedging their bets on a shared vehicle future.
All of this is leading to claims that OEMs are planning products and services that are in direct competition with the current retail sales model, a prospect that concerns many of their franchised dealers.
Rather than face massive revolt later, manufacturers can start by including their dealers now. Here are some ideas...
Dealerships as Sign-Up Centers:
While the telecom industry is a mobile focused area, in person stores are still utilized to give subscribers a place to experience the products and sign up for service. Creating a plan for utilizing the existing footprint will give dealers a share in the future (when paired with incentives for subscriptions).
Dealerships as Service Centers
This idea may be a little obvious as Dealerships already represent the service network for existing OEMs, but there are steps that can be taken now to prepare them for the change in customer expectations. Planning for vehicles that drive themselves into the dealership for work and how to manage that business is one step and developing methods to replace down subscription vehicles is another. Service departments will also have to plan on how to expedite service on these vehicles as they will be in more frequently and excessive downtime will impact profitability of the subscription model.
The Pre-Owned Problem
Witt shared efficiency and autonomy, vehicles will be constantly transporting customers to and from their destinations with minimal downtime. This means that vehicles will accumulate mileage extremely quickly and exceeding the markets current definition of average miles. This will create a huge supply of hike mileage late model cars that Dealerships can help with via used car operations.
There is no doubt that self-driving cars and subscription services are going to change how consumers use vehicles in the future and how smoothly automakers integrate their current dealer network will likely determine the winners and losers of this new frontier.