Jan Burgard, co-founder and CEO of Berylls Group, predicts how the move towards electrified and autonomous vehicles, and digital customer experiences, will impact the automotive industry
What key challenges does the automotive sector face in 2021 and how can it overcome them?
For the past few years, the automotive sector has faced four main challenges: electrification, connectivity, autonomous vehicles and developing mobility services. Competition has also become increasingly fierce, with incumbents and new entrants such as Audi, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Lucid Motors, Nio, Renault-Nissan, Volkswagen and Xpeng joining Tesla in the electrified car market. In 2021, automakers need to take a strong focus on solving electrification issues, and in turn that will require them to develop integrated software to power new vehicles. They must therefore build a culture of innovation and collaboration within their organisations to ensure employees can understand and adapt to new targets and working models.
In what ways has the pandemic changed customer expectations?
Travel restrictions and safety measures have made it difficult for consumers to interact with manufacturers and dealerships in person, so they’ve expected changes at various touchpoints to enable them to do things such as take their car for a service or go on a test drive. The pandemic has shown that digitising the customer experience can be beneficial. However, it’s also reminded us that fundamental operational changes don’t happen overnight, particularly in the automotive industry where companies have long development and support cycles and rigid structures, processes and budgets.
How can digital technologies help the automotive industry to successfully deliver these experiences?
Cloud computing and the ubiquitousness of technology have opened up multiple opportunities for serving customers in previously impossible ways. For example, manufacturers and dealers can use augmented reality to enable customers to virtually view and customise vehicles from their own homes. Automakers can also use artificial intelligence and machine learning to better understand and anticipate customer preferences to improve vehicle design and performance. Dealerships can use these tools to enhance the buying experience by proactively sending tailor-made content to customers, and offering helpful post-sale support services, such as optimised route planning.
What trends does Berylls expect to emerge in the automotive industry over the next few years?
In the short term, everyone will concentrate on electrification, software integration and digitising the customer journey. Automakers will also partner with technology providers to develop software for their vehicles – Volkswagen, for example, has teamed up with Microsoft to build an automated driving platform.