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Jan 18, 2017

The Future of the Automotive Industry

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I kicked off the New Year by attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas – the largest trade show to come to town all year. If you have never been, it is definitely bucket-list worthy.  Manufacturers from all over the world come to show off the latest and greatest gadgets that you didn’t know you needed until you laid your hands on it!

A major focus of this year’s show was the automotive industry and the future of mobility: self-driving cars. As one of the largest industries in the world, at over one billion cars strong, the automotive industry is embarking on a transformation to become an autonomous industry. Here are some of my biggest takeaways:

  1. The automotive industry will see more innovation in the next 10 years than it has in the last 50.  It has been compared to the evolution of the iPhone – a product that was launched 10 years ago this month.
  2. By 2030, the assumption is that consumers won’t choose which car to buy; instead, they will decide if they should even buy a car at all. Today, most cars spend 20+ hours a day parked. In the future, shared ownership will enable cars to be driven 20+ hours a day.
  3. Vehicles of the future will all be connected to the internet. Enhanced battery technology will enable most vehicles to be electric. Range anxiety will become a thing of the past. Vehicle emissions will no longer exist.
  4. Today, most consumers are apprehensive about self-driving cars in any form. In the future, we will look back at today and say, “Remember when over 33,000 people died each year in the U.S. in car accidents?” or, “How did we ever deal with rush-hour traffic every day?”

Change in our industry is coming, and it’s happening quickly. How will these changes impact how the aftermarket does business? It is easy (and important) that we focus on the short term – profit, margin, assortment, and foot traffic—but is your business keeping an eye on what’s to come? For example, down the road, will our industry’s focus need to be on fleet management companies instead of individual car owners? If self-driving cars never hit anything, does the collision repair industry become obsolete? Focusing on the long-term evolution of our industry today, rather than ignoring it, will position auto-related companies for success down the road.

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