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Global Automotive Executive Survey 2018

Global Automotive Executive Survey 2018

KPMG's Global Automotive Executive Survey is an annual assessment of the current state and future prospects of the worldwide automotive industry.

Steven Bragg

National Leader, Motor Industry Services, KPMG Enterprise

KPMG Australia


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Geometric fragments of a car against a city background

What is the future for car dealerships?

At a time when the global car market is about to set a new record and produce over 100 million vehicles per annum, most powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE), it is hard to believe that the industry is looking to a future where fewer cars are produced and local car dealerships as we know them may no longer exist.

KPMG’s 19th Global Automotive Survey, published in January, asked over 900 automotive executives from Western Europe, USA, China and India and over 2,000 consumers what they believed the major changes to the auto industry would be. The majority believed that over 50 percent of bricks and mortar dealerships would close by 2025 and that most automotive manufacturing would move out of Western Europe.

The survey also highlighted consumer fears over data security: three quarters agreed this is a major influence in purchase decisions and should be integral to vehicle standard operating equipment – a view shared by 85 percent of executives. The concept of what constitutes ‘standard equipment’ must therefore be redefined.

Impact of alternate source vehicles

These survey results are influenced by the rapid take-up of alternate source vehicles (in other words, those with non-internal combustion engines) expected over the coming decade.

The internal combustion engine has been an extremely robust and successful means of driving personal transportation for over a century but it comes with unique features that have led to current distribution channels. With over 10,000 moving parts, the ICE is complex and requires constant and highly technical and expensive maintenance. Historically, this has led to the advent of the local dealership model, as dealers managed the vehicle ownership relationship from sales through to service.

With fewer moving parts, the vehicles of the future will be more software driven than mechanical, which eliminates the need for expensive and specialised servicing.

Up until now, sales of alternate fuel vehicles have been stunted for a number of reasons, with legacy issues at the top of the list. Retooling a plant to move from producing ICE vehicles to electric ones is a very costly exercise. However global concerns on climate change and the need to reduce CO2 emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement has led to many governments now implementing dates by which emission producing cars must cease to be sold in their countries.

In recent months, Germany has implemented an end date of 2030 to the sale of ICE vehicles; France and the UK have implemented the same for 2040; and China, the largest car market in the world, will shortly announce a date expected to be as early as 2030. Additionally, some States in the USA, such as California, are implementing their own regulations to limit CO2 emissions and push the alternate fuel source agenda which will lead to the rest of the USA following suit.

Both Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and technology companies are investing in this new technology. The KPMG survey also pinpointed that fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) replacing battery electric vehicles (BEVs) was this year’s number one manufacturing trend. As electric vehicle servicing intervals can now extend to 100,000km, the dependency of the customer on the dealer network is curtailed, leading to possible closures over time.

Success in the new automotive ecosystem

To survive, dealerships must evolve from Transaction Hubs to Experience Hubs, where vehicles will be built at a very personalised level. Dealers and automakers will need to put customer value first, meaning steering services away from the product by creating service across the whole customer lifecycle. These Hubs will interact with drivers at every stage of the ownership life cycle and reinvent the concept of customer service. Sales support is no longer enough.

In Australia, these changes can already be seen, such as car showrooms popping up in major shopping centres, including the Jaguar Landrover dealership at Westfield Bondi Junction in Sydney. These are more akin to the Experience Hubs of the future, where customers can experience both product and brand, combining a shopping mindset which comes with being in a retail complex. Mercedes Benz has also joined the trend, opening Australia’s first Mercedes-Benz Me Café in Melbourne, where the focus is as much on the quality of the coffee as the cars.

The automotive industry and dealers need to recognise the value of upstream data provided by the passenger before, during and after travel. Downstream content is over-managed and mostly claimed by the likes of Facebook and Google. Dealers and the car companies can own the upstream data as it’s not maintained by the non-product based players and largely they don’t have access to it. The focus therefore should be on co-integrating with downstream content rather than trying to own the downstream. The real value of the industry is in the upstream data.

Success in the new automotive ecosystem will not be attained by a single entity dominating the entire process. Each player must identify their role and define their field of play to create their own platform. In the new normal, consolidating with industry peers may be a way for the industry players to survive and keep up with the non-product based players (Google and Facebook.) Finding the right balance between where to compete, cooperate and co-integrate will be the key.


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