According the NADA, 2016 forecasts to be a banner year for the US auto industry, marking the 7th straight year in a row that the SAAR (Seasonaly Adjusted Annual Rate) has increased and an all-time high to boot. Yet despite all of this positive growth, it appears that inside and outside of the industry there are many looking to bring change in 2016 and beyond. With Uber disrupting livery, Airbnb disrupting hospitality and GoPro disrupting video with BIG results, it seems that people are lining up to disrupt retail auto. Here are four big trends to keep your eye on in 2016:
Buying/Selling Cars “Over” the Internet
Customers constantly complain that the time to buy a car is too long and that they don’t like going to car dealerships. Dealers are always concerned about compressed margins and the high price of their personnel. So it comes as no surprise that so many people think selling cars online is a solution to these problems. There actually have been plenty of different attempts already. GM has their Shop, Click and Drive module on their dealer sites but awareness and acceptance has been minimal so far. Cox Automotive (Autotrader, vAuto, Manheim, KBB, Dealertrack etc) has launched a plug-in solution called Make My Deal. Similar competitors like Virtual Deal, have also started to show up on dealer sites. But the big news in 2016 will be the complete launch of AutoNation’s “AutoNation Express.” It was recently announced that now consumers can pick their vehicle, value their trade and complete all of the finance paperwork online all before heading to an AutoNation dealership for their VIP delivery. How big a splash will the nation’s largest retailer make with this advanced strategy? Will others follow? It will be interesting to see.
Venture and Private Equity Dollars make a splash
It’s not just dealers and OEM’s taking a turn at disruption though. Wall Street and Silicon Valley have noticed and companies like Beepi, Vroom, and Carvana are raising BIG dollars to sell cars in a whole new way. In fact, Beepi, which has raised over $80 million so far and is pursuing another round of $300 million, recently expanded it’s operations to the five Burroughs of New York. The Northern California startup has been selling used cars online and delivering them to customers and making big waves. 2016 may be the year we find out if these upstarts have what it takes to change retail.
Ever since Toyota went through their infamous floormat recall related to unintended acceleration claims, auto recalls have become more frequent and as commonplace as recommended maintenance. Although some may view this as a big problem, what it really represents is a big opportunity for dealer service departments. If you haven’t come up with a plan to take care of your customers, your used cars and the used cars at lots in your marketplace, then now is the time to begin. I have no doubt that the dealers who can figure out recalls are going to be the dealers who have a big 2016.
Google was the first to jump into the self-driving car game but more OEM’s are making their way into the fray. Mercedes-Benz and Tesla have recently announced they have self-driving plans. I predict you will hear even more OEM’s make announcements in 2016 as well.
2016 will no doubt be one to remember in the auto industry. Keep your eyes and ears open because a lot of new and exciting things will be going on.