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Color, fuel economy, safety features, cool sound system, cup holders, exterior design and maybe a place to stash a purse. A vehicle that checked all those boxes for a shopper usually ended up trading a spot in the showroom for a space in someone’s garage. But a new study by Accenture titled “Industry X.0” reveals sharp changes in consumer expectations and requirements when shopping for a vehicle as well as a transformational realignment of design and investment priorities for automotive companies.
Brian Irwin, Automotive and Mobility North America Lead, Accenture.
Brian Irwin, Accenture’s automotive and mobility lead in North America, says customers now have what he termed “liquid expectations” when shopping for a vehicle—not surprisingly, based on how they now make non-automotive purchases.
“Liquid expectations relate to experiences buying things online with Amazon, the ability to buy a latte on your phone. They all influence decisions in buying a vehicle,” Irwin said in an interview.
He points to data indicating consumers are dissatisfied with the current car-buying process with 47% saying they would like to buy their next vehicle online, 60% expressed interest in home delivery and almost 70% saying they would prefer fixed pricing.
Beyond the buying experience, customers are less interested in the traditional criteria, focusing more on what the vehicle offers them while spending time behind the wheel.
“Our data suggested in terms of what kinds of connected services customers want,” said Irwin. “33% of drivers want in-car entertainment services, 29% want the ability to connect and be working, 12% want to be able to connect for online shopping and 37% said they would change car brand for better connectivity.”
What that all comes down to, says Raghav Narsalay, managing director of Accenture research and global research lead for Industry X.0, is a total change in the way customers think when they consider a vehicle.
Raghav Narsalay, Managing director of Accenture research and global research lead for Industry X.0.
Alex Claney Photography, Inc via Accenture
“Shoppers’ criteria is more about the experience— what is it that I can get after I sit in a car, rather than just a car,” explained Narsalay in a phone interview. “Shoppers are thinking, am I getting the experience that I want. Does this car make me feel safer and more comfortable at the same time. Does the car really understand me as an entity? Can the car respond to my needs? If my cellphone can do that, why can’t my car do that?”
Reflecting that change in priorities Accenture research reveals automotive sales “will grow marginally” to $2.2 trillion by 2030 but revenues from mobility services “will soar to over half of that at $1.3 trillion” during that same time period.
Mobility services would include electrification and varying levels of driver assistance and autonomy along with the growing sophistication of infotainment systems—all very much data-based, leading Narsalay to describe today’s vehicles as “containers of software.”
Ford SYNC 4’s premium 15.5-inch screen and adaptive dash card interface
Ford Motor Co.
“Data becomes so powerful, and it actually really defines the design and the way the car really needs to function because it is now about the customer and not just about the car,” said Narsalay.
Creating those containers, he says, requires an entirely new way of approaching vehicle design, including hiring people with non-traditional automotive skills.
“The entire focus now is really changing from engineers— not just mechanical engineers or automobile engineers, to individuals who can combine the power of data with engineering. Customer experience skills. It’s a phenomenal kind of change.”