Johan Friman has been at the helm of the K Group car division in Finland for the past three years. K Auto Oy imports and retails Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, CUPRA, Porsche and Bentley passenger cars plus Volkswagen commercial vehicles and MAN trucks. It is the market leader in car imports in Finland also it develops car-related service concepts and multichannel services, including online stores, mobile applications and online systems for service bookings.
"Artiﬁcial Intelligence comes at a time of change in the auto industry paradigm," Friman says. The European Union has set strict limits for carbon dioxide emissions for 2020–2030, maybe a bigger challenge for the European car industry than AI for now. Hence the interest in battery electric and fuel cell electric cars as well as hybrids. But as AI is seen as a natural extension to electric cars, the trend may hasten its advent.
"I see an opening for AI in freight and bus routes, where you drive back and forth a set route several times a day, day in, day out. That cannot be in any way uplifting for the driver," says Friman.
There is already a lot of testing and pilot programs. The Netherlands is working with Belgium and Germany to establish 'truck platooning'. Convoys of up to 100 trucks, led by a human-driven vehicle, drive from Amsterdam, Antwerp and Rotterdam to the Ruhr Valley in Germany. "In contrast, people who buy a Porsche really want to drive it themselves!"
AI will take years, but digitalization is already a fact. Booking an overhaul for your car is sometimes difﬁcult. So we developed an online booking system. Customer satisfaction improved immensely.
The young generation, growing up comfortable and oblivious to status objects, is more interested in mobility as a service, and a likely target group for autonomous vehicles. Even in the United States, where youth and driving were long inseparable, youngsters show decreasing interest in buying cars.
K Group is also a major supermarket chain, and K Auto provides rideshare cars for its shoppers. You receive a code number in your smartphone that opens the doors. You return the car in two hours or maybe a week. The synergy is seamless.
"AI will take years, but digitalization is already a fact. Booking an overhaul for your car is sometimes difﬁcult. So we developed an online booking system. Customer satisfaction improved immensely."
"One step closer to AI is leasing the navigation function of a car for a set period of time. It is activated, not bought, and you have it for as long as you've ordered it, just like Netﬂix."
According to KPMG Global Automotive Executive Survey (2019), nearly half of auto executives believe the number of brick-and-mortar retail outlets will drop by 30–50%. 4 in 5 agree they must transform into service factories, used car hubs or focus on ID-management.
Earlier on, the buyer of a new car visited K Auto dealer's ﬁve times on average, now less than once. Fleet customers buy more than one car at a time, and some buy without seeing the car in real life. They visit the website, conﬁgure the exact properties they want (sch as color and hoops) – and come to the dealer's print-out in hand.
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