Traditionally, for years the most technological pieces of a vehicle could be found under the hood or floor, but today’s cars and SUVs are all lined up with the latest technology and software and high-tech hardware surrounds the driver and passengers.
Even the experience of buying a new or used vehicle is highly digital today, from virtual purchasing marketplaces to mobile connectivity and driver interface being at the forefront of the checklist of numerous customers. Numerous innovative technology startups or even established players are challenging the “old school” dealership business model with online purchasing services. In the mean time, the giants at the top of the technology food chain – Apple and Google – are working towards establishing their own in-car infotainment divisions centered around their preferred mobile operating systems. Tesla already touts over-the-air update features for its luxurious Model S electric sedan and Ford has recently inked a deal with Microsoft to provide wireless updates to its upcoming Sync 3 infotainment system that will equip all Ford and Lincoln products by the end of next year.
The automotive market stands like this today: McKinsey’s research reports that 80 percent of new car buyers and a whopping 100 percent of used car customers do their research online before ever stepping into a dealer’s showroom. And established players such as Cravana – self-titling itself as America’s first “complete online national auto retailer” – promote that we’re very close to the “couch potato” car buying experience. Or there are other startups, such as Shift, which – in the confines of the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas – offer a concierge-like service for the used car purchase process, enabling users to buy the cars directly from their smartphones.