As automotive technology advances and the needs, wants and demands of the modern shopper evolves, dealership teams not only have to keep pace with an ever-expanding and changing market, but must anticipate what will happen next. For the final section of our look at the evolving automotive landscape, we’ve asked our Dealer Panel what’s surprised them, and what they see coming down the road.
AutoSuccess: What do you see as the next big thing when it comes to evolving technology in automobiles?
Andrew DiFeo, GM of Hyundai of St. Augustine: I think everyone’s watching autonomous driving and how that plays both in the world of mobility and for the car dealer in both sales and service. I think over the next five years we’re going to continue to see more autonomous driving features in cars, but features more designed to provide higher safety; the car really isn’t meant to be driven by itself, but the autonomous driving features will kick in to prevent an accident.
Chris Saraceno, VP and Partner of Kelly Automotive Group: I believe the “next big things” will come from deeper integration with personal devices, making a seamless transition from home to vehicle to work and back again. I also believe that we’ll see autonomous driving vehicles coming into their own about a decade from now. I envision the cars of the future to be developed with enhanced artificial intelligence that will eventually integrate with self-driving car technology.
Mike Good, GM of Street Toyota: There are so many “next big things.” Electricity, autonomy, connectivity, augment and virtual reality. It’s all connected. Customers will be able to enjoy a virtual reality dealership walk thru and virtual test drive. Meanwhile, the safety features becoming more common now will evolve into self-driving features allowing drivers to enjoy more in-car entertainment and ever-increasing connectivity. A continued evolution of phone and other device integration will further serve customer convenience. Additionally, even though low fuel prices have cooled the demand for efficiency, we’ll see more plug-in hybrids, pure electric powertrains and alternative fuel vehicles in the days to come.
Kimberly Cardinal Piscatelli, Vice President and Partner of Cardinal Honda: Autonomous vehicles are the elephant in the room when it comes to evolving technology and new vehicles. Before we have to worry about the changes autonomous driving vehicles will bring to our industry, we do have lots to look forward to! First, we started our cars with keys, then fobs and smart phones or watches. How long until we are relying on fingerprint or retinal scans to start our vehicles? How about active window displays? We’ll go from aftermarket 3-D projection navigation to active glass. Imagine your windshield, capable of displaying a navigation screen live, highlighting your route as your next turn approaches. While the technology improves to provide a better owner experience, the main gain from the rapid expansion in technology remains the increased focus on safety. The systems in place now and those on the horizon are going to save lives. Today’s technology protects us from our own distracted driving as well as the dreaded “other guy.”
AutoSuccess: What has been your biggest surprise when it comes to automobile tech, either from a sales standpoint or in consumer demand?
Andrew DiFeo: One of the biggest surprises is just how every generation, from Millennials and younger all the way up through to Baby Boomers and pre-baby boomers who are still around, has
adopted the new technology as it has become available. It’s not just the “younger generations.” Everyone’s in tune with this technology and we should make sure to embrace that and know enough about the technology to build value in it with our product and show how it benefits the consumer in their lives.
Chris Saraceno: I’ve been surprised by how many tech features, once only available on luxury vehicles — Bluetooth, backup cameras, heated seats, touch screen displays and more — are
now standard or will be standard on most vehicles with in a few years. Looking at it from the consumer’s perspective, my most enlightening surprise is that driving a car has become a much more pleasurable experience because of technological advances and integrated ergonomics in the 21st Century automobile. Driving has gone from a “go from point A to point B” experience into one where the journey itself can be enjoyed.
Mike Good: Mobile devices and constant connectivity have fundamentally changed the way people live, including the way they shop and make major decisions. The consumers demand that increased connectivity. In turn, we must continually analyze our business protocol. We must sophisticate our connection with every customer. Doing this drives communicating in timely and relevant ways. We’re charged with mastering the art of reputation management and search engine optimization. It demands we connect with people on their terms and preferred platforms, which are constantly changing. You have to expect technology to advance, but this fundamental change to a century–old business has been a surprise. It’s still about people, relationships, transparency and serving customers, however — a tried and true success formula.
Kimberly Cardinal Piscatelli: I never cease to be amazed by the dichotomy of shoppers. When it comes to consumer appetite for technology, they seem to fall into one of two camps. Infrequent buyers who haven’t shopped in five years or more tend to be surprised by the amount of technology available in even entry-level vehicles. Side-view cameras and voice command phone pairing come as unexpected surprises; lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control blows their minds! The second camp is made up of those shoppers who upgrade their vehicles with the same fervor as their cell phones. They come in prepared with their online research asking for the latest technology by name, wanting to know at what MPH the low-speed follow system maintains effectiveness. Consumers from both camps drive new vehicles home with increased safety, convenience and owner experience.
If you have questions or are a dealer who would like to be considered for the panel, please contact us at [email protected].