No other industry is changing as much as the auto industry. Climate protection packages present manufacturers with new challenges and the demands of customers are also transforming drastically. If you want to maintain your position in the vehicle market, you have to keep up with a fluid landscape while not losing sight of the customer, explains Florian Wimmer in an interview.
Florian, what challenges are the major automotive groups facing right now?
The pressure is coming from all directions. As part of the new climate package, the EU is stipulating that from 2035 onward, only emission-free vehicles may be sold. In Europe it is now up to the individual nations to implement this ruling. Some are rushing ahead; in Austria, for example, the ban will apply from 2030. In other markets such as China or Japan, the market for new car ownership is growing continuously, but electromobility is not yet a big trend there - in many places there is a lack of infrastructure. Apart from that, alternative mobility concepts such as car sharing are becoming increasingly popular and customers expect a high degree of digitization.
Expanding on this idea of increased digitization, does this mean that in the future all cars will be bought online?
At the moment, the test drive still plays a major role in car purchases, especially in electromobility. Our Future of Mobility study has shown that 56% of those surveyed who have already test-driven an e-car are convinced that they will buy one next. I can imagine that in the future a virtual reality test drive could replace a test drive in real life, but we are still a long way from that unfortunately.
How high is the current degree of digitization from the customer's point of view?
It really differs completely from brand to brand. We tested various brands in Spain and the degree of digitization ran the gamut, from a confusing website to the perfect online experience including a test drive in front of your own house. Basically, customers are no longer as loyal to brands as they used to be. So, if a brand makes a mistake during a customer journey, the customer quickly switches their research or purchase intent to another brand.
Which brands are pioneers?
Our survey revealed that Tesla is clearly the most innovative brand when it comes to electromobility and will remain so for the next five years. In addition, Chinese customers have high expectations of Apple Car, BYD and NIO. The classic car brands are facing new competition so they are also making moves toward electromobility.
What can brands do to keep their finger on the pulse?
Don't lose track! Even if there are many government guidelines, the customer should remain the focus. Anyone who has an ear for what customers desire is one step ahead. With regular online customer surveys and a customer experience program, manufacturers can know exactly what their customers want and where there is potential for improvement. And most importantly: see change as an opportunity!
Interested in more insights about the future of mobility? Download the Future of Mobility study here.