CommentaryNov 2nd, 2023

Educating Dealers and OEM Partners to Market & Sell Connected Vehicles

Connected Vehicles

As vehicle technology progresses, opportunities for connectivity, advanced electronics, and computer technology are emerging. Auto dealers are at the forefront of this new landscape, helping customers understand their vehicle's technology and new data capabilities while protecting their investment.

Alongside such technological advancements, the learning curve and associated risks also increase. Not only will dealerships have to educate their customers and staff about emerging technologies, but they'll also have to rely on support from OEM partners to facilitate understanding of new requirements in vehicle protection. Proactive dealers seek support from their OEM partners to keep pace with the landscape's evolving vehicle protection requirements.

This confluence of technology means virtually every new vehicle today is a “connected vehicle”. However, are dealers truly harnessing the features and benefits in the marketing of these vehicles?

Exploring the Potential of Connected Vehicles

Like navigating new advancements in personal technology like cell phones and laptops, tech-forward vehicles can be intimidating to purchase. Training becomes increasingly crucial for the dealers who must sell these complex vehicles and the consumers and fleet customers who want to own one.

While features are important, training should not be limited to that aspect alone. It's necessary to inform customers and fleet customers about the software and data advantages linked to their vehicles. In the same way that a phone's operating system should be up to date for maximum effectiveness, a vehicle's technology should be as well. With the latest updates in vehicle technology, manufacturers can guarantee optimal performance, address bugs, and tackle potential security issues by using software over-the-air (SOTA) technology.

Promoting the Advantages to Consumers

Insights from connected vehicle data offer various applications, benefiting everyone from OEM partners and insurers to dealer service centers. One of the primary applications involves parts and vehicle maintenance. Advanced algorithms can scan the vehicle in real time and compute potential issues like engine problems, low oil, and battery or tire issues. Consumers and fleets can use real-time diagnostic data to notify maintenance teams, enabling them to return serviced vehicles much more efficiently.

Additionally, active driver behavior analysis can benefit insurance providers and extended warranty services. Examining driver history can tailor customized training modules grounded in their actual driving behavior. For fleets, continuous monitoring of vehicle and driver scores can lead to reduced total cost of ownership (TCO). This proactive approach helps fleet operators minimize losses due to theft, pilferage, and negligence. Simultaneously, it allows for ongoing training opportunities to enhance driver performance.

Additional advantages can assist dealers and OEMs in selling connected vehicles. With access to personalized information from their customers' vehicles, dealers can better understand them and forge closer relationships. With this technology, dealers can better understand their customers' driving habits and automotive needs.

How dealers and OEMs can generate revenue from vehicle data

Optimizing sales is vital because dealers and OEM partners face diminishing profits per vehicle. Hence, capitalizing on the vehicle's data capabilities is essential for growth in future revenue. Dealers and OEM partners must work together to create educational initiatives so that consumers can discover the mutually beneficial aspects of investing in connected vehicle technology.

This strategy still resembles today's need for dealers and sales teams to enhance customer education regarding advanced F&I products. While customers might view this as merely an "upsell," delving into the essence of these offerings reveals that many F&I products actually save money and help protect their investment.

Connected vehicle technology presents the same opportunities for customers, creating new revenue models for dealers and their OEM, insurance companies, and maintenance partners.

In fact, connected vehicle technology can offer advantages to dealers even before a customer visits the showroom. The data within connected vehicles provides enhanced visibility, allowing dealers to track cars throughout the supply chain. This insight offers crucial timing details, enabling dealers to monitor the vehicle's journey from production to shipment and its arrival at the dealership. Currently, dealers rely on tracking data from shipping partners, which may not be reliable or updated in real time. However, pinpointing the vehicle's precise location in transit enables dealers to set accurate expectations for waiting customers and make timely inventory decisions, thereby improving their ability to manage inventory effectively.

Furthermore, even vehicles parked on the lot awaiting purchase can face issues such as tire pressure loss or check engine light alerts. Connected vehicle technology and data can assist dealers in monitoring the condition of vehicles on the lot, ensuring that customers receive properly conditioned vehicles upon delivery. This proactive approach reduces the conditioning requirements for service staff post-transaction.

Charging the future of automotive sales

AI-powered innovation using loT, edge computing, and cloud technology is revolutionizing performance in vehicle management, thus significantly enhancing its efficiency and effectiveness. AI's capability to analyze vast data from telematics devices offers dealers and sales teams valuable insights regarding inventory management, sales boosts, reduced costs, and optimized productivity.

As AI accumulates more datasets through the OEM's cloud system, it will have the information needed to generate more precise predictions. This information processing signifies a future where vehicles are safer and more intuitive and equipped with highly accurate technology that offers valuable real-time vehicle diagnostics.

Having this full spectrum of knowledge on the potential of connected vehicle technology means dealers and their OEM partners will have a better strategy when marketing and selling the benefits to car shoppers.

    John Sternal is a Partner and Director of PR & Social Media at Merit Mile, where he oversees strategic client programs for PR, social media, and communications research. He has been writing about the automotive industry since 2005 and has more than 25 years of experience in building brands and creating brand awareness through PR, communications, and media strategy.

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