In OBI+, we truly believe that this decade will look radically different for the car industries, particularly for the automotive aftermarket. As an executive officer of OBI+, I have written below some of my thoughts about what the future may hold. My opinions, predictions, trends, and expectations are influenced by numerous studies, customer meetings, conferences and interactions with hundreds of people from the industry.
We are currently working within - from repair and maintenance to fleet management, car leasing, and the automotive aftermarket space.
I believe we are starting to see significant signs that:
For the people coming from the industry, these might seem quite clear and logical. However, many others have little knowledge about what is happening nowadays. Yet, 10 years is a very long time and from my view, people are mostly concerned with what’s happening today or in the next couple of years. Therefore, I have decided to mention a few of the short-term directions that show these signs of change.
Access to data. Today, it’s possible to connect to cars directly or through retrofit devices. And it will be getting easier to do so due to increasing acceptance from all parties as long as the right medium for accessing and distributing data is present.
Electrical vehicles. Labeled as a better alternative for the planet, a key focus for many car manufacturers and publicly very well advertised, there is no doubt that e-vehicles will be increasing in numbers year by year. However, the wide adoption of EVs is full of challenges in regards to infrastructure, the need for customer education, and less work for the aftermarket in the face of the repair and maintenance sector. I share the view that end customers will drive the growth in the next decade, so the professionals currently living off repair and maintenance should be looking into expanding their service portfolio and keeping customers closer.
Autonomous vehicles. The futuristic scenarios of self-driving cars will be becoming a reality in more places around the world, thus increasing general awareness. Once widely available as taxis or any other form of transportation that is available for the public, the intention to adopt will go viral. However, I expect that it will happen towards the end of the decade and it most definitely will be setting the footprint for the future afterward.
Picking up speed and readiness to take action. By working with connected car projects for the past 4 years, I have personally experienced the change of opinion and belief. Previously, I would often find myself speaking to people who were thinking about today’s challenges alone. However, for the past year, I am impressed by open communication and open initiatives supported by companies across multiple industries. Such signs could only push everyone to move ahead, hence the aftermarket is picking up speed and ready to take action. The scale in 2020 may still vary from doing a pilot to kicking off a commercial implementation, but the readiness to act is present. The first lessons learned are valuable for the whole aftermarket. No doubt dealing with connected car services creates confusion because for many businesses such services are not the core business.
Regulation as an enabler. Relying on the expectation that the change in regulations of access to data will happen soon is one way to move further. However, it takes time and it seems that many are trying to justify their inactivity in space with that, at least in Europe. I support the intention of employing a certain regulatory framework, but I see such development as an enabler for further and potentially accelerated growth. The innovators that are active today will simply have a competitive advantage by leveraging such a new framework when that reality hits.
No barriers to adoption.
Small and medium-size fleets are gaining access to connected services such as fleet management on much better conditions than through the ‘traditional’ models of purchasing separate hardware and long-term subscription terms. The barriers to adopting a simple fleet service are very low and the above-mentioned points are only going to make it easier for these types of businesses to begin using fleet services.
Car ownership vs. fleet operators.
Large fleet operators support the future of a significant decrease in car ownership by individuals. Whether such operators will be leasing, rental, car subscription or any similar type of fleet operators, the future of car usage and no ownership has been heavily presented. That would mean that the fleet operators will become larger in terms of the size and many decisions will be centralized. That would open new directions of thinking for both operators and service providers working with them. The operators will need more data and information about the cars these operate and easier ways to communicate with users while demanding simpler and professional coordination of repair, maintenance, and other services.
99% of fleets connected. The definite benefits of using fleet services in a combination with widely-spread car connectivity will lead to low barriers to adoption. A great scenario where I don’t think that there are any questions towards ''if'' but ''when'' 99% of fleets being connected will become a reality.
Convenience. In my opinion, the word that will summarize many of the reasons why many new connected car services will disrupt existing industries. People will be even paying a premium for services that bring a new level of convenience in their daily life. New connected car services do not refer to pushing an app where someone can see fuel or charge level, but to a new level of interaction with the ecosystem around one’s car.
Access to the infotainment. The discussions around access to data are very often leading to communicating data out of the car. However, the next 10 years will also show us what is going to happen with the most used digital asset in a car, the infotainment system. Push from tech giants like Apple and Google are increasing the feasibility and adoption of applications through the built-in screen of many new cars. It’s a question of time for drivers and passengers to demand access to more.
2 billion users. It’s my guess to how many car users we will exit this decade with. Whether it's 1, 1.5 or 2 billion, it’s just a number. The important part is that it’s a huge number and at some point in the next 10 years, we will face a reality where the first hundreds of millions of users will tip the scales towards expecting a certain (higher) standard of digital services at their disposal.
It is exciting to think about what role we, at OBI+, could play in Empowering innovation in the Next 10!
We are looking forward to the Next 10 Years in adopting, integrating and supporting new technologies while providing our platform to partners and customers.
In the short term, we are aiming to empower the Next 10 innovators within the automotive aftermarket to lead the wave of adoption by using OBI+’s suite of connected car services.
Final remark, these are my thoughts about what the next decade has in store. One thing is certain, by the time I am writing a new article in 2029, connected cars would have revolutionized the automotive aftermarket, the mobility space, and any other industry that has something to do with cars.