Article

Autonomous Driving – Right Around the Corner?

It’s official – “The Jetsons” era is here, and autonomous vehicles are the proof! Self-driving cars can be literal lifesavers, taking the worry out of being on the road for the elderly or disabled, but how does this innovation on wheels impact auto dealerships?

Learn More
< Back to Insights
Insights  <  Autonomous Driving – Right Around the Corner?

It’s official – “The Jetsons” era is here, and autonomous vehicles are the proof! Self-driving cars can be literal lifesavers, taking the worry out of being on the road for the elderly or disabled, but how does this innovation on wheels impact auto dealerships?

Its official – “The Jetsons” era is here, and autonomous vehicles are the proof! Self-driving cars can be literal lifesavers, taking the worry out of being on the road for the elderly or disabled, but how does this innovation on wheels impact auto dealerships? 

If this vehicle revolution continues – and all signs point to “yes” – the need for every household to have at least one car may give way to a sharedcar society. Dealerships, therefore, could evolve into fleet outlets with consumers subscribing to autonomous vehicles.   

Before we get too far into the future, let’s take a look at how the automobile industry measures autonomous vehicle capabilities today. Currently, there exists a fivelevel scale: 

  • Level Zero: No automation; driver performs all tasks. 
  • Level One: Driver assistance; vehicle has features like cruise control, lane departure warning, but the driver must still be in control. 
  • Level Two: Partial automation; the car can help control speed and steering and assist with spacing in between cars and centering in lanes. Tesla Autopilot, the Volvo Pilot Assist and the Audi Traffic Jam Assist are examples. 
  • Level Three: Conditional automation; vehicles can operate themselves under ideal conditions, such as limited access highways. A driver must still be behind the wheel but can take their hands off it. 
  • Level Four: High automation; vehicles drive themselves in most conditions without human interaction.   
  • Level Five: Full automation; vehicles can drive themselves on known or unknown roads in all conditions and require no human input. General Motors is now working on a fully autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel or pedals.

So…back to the future. Does the autonomous vehicle industry provide opportunities for dealerships? If car sales go down, but utilization goes up, it stands to reason that parts and service needs will increase. Dealerships could take advantage of this aspect with 24/7 service hours as vehicles could drive themselves to the dealership at any time of the day or night to be serviced.   

Which brings up another point  at the core of the autonomous vehicle concept is safety. With fewer or no accidents, dealership body shops would no longer be necessary and the need for auto insurance would also decline …. prime examples of how the evolution of technology opens some doors and closes others.  

The ramifications of the autonomous vehicle industry are open-ended at this time, but it seems clear that they will be many, affecting dealers, manufacturers, mechanics, insurance agencies, attorneys, the steel, aluminum and oil industries and more. Consider also that younger generations are less open to car ownership in general and have a great trust in technology.  

The auto industry has an enormous impact on the U.S. economy. While the driverless car model may not unfold as smoothly, or completely, or quickly as indications predict, what is certain is that vehicles are smarter and will continue along that path. We need to pay attention to new trends and try to see the big picture. We may not have all the answers or information right now, but it’s important to think ahead and prepare for change…whichever road it takes us down. 

At blum, we are focused on the challenges facing our dealerships today, anticipating what they may confront in the future, and readying them for whatever the future holds. 

Continue the Conversation with Our Team
Get in touch with us.

Contact Us