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Automotive retail 2030: how dealers must evolve

Catching up with the evolving mobility ecosystem

The way vehicles are purchased, distributed and serviced is changing dramatically. Automotive dealerships are facing disruption from multiple directions: evolving mobility solutions, intensifying competition, product innovation, technology proliferation and changing customer preferences.

The role of traditional dealerships as a link between the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and the customer is not likely to diminish. But:

  • Customers are making fewer trips to dealerships, making that initial visit even more crucial.
  • While visiting a dealership, customers consider service orientation and expertise of the salesperson as most critical. Innovations require the upskilling of the existing salesforce and the introduction of new roles to augment customer experience throughout the purchase journey.
  • When it comes to building an online presence, many traditional dealers lag behind select OEMs, captives and brokers, which offer portals capable of performing entire customer journeys online.

With that in mind, dealers need to undertake significant change management to catch up with the evolving mobility ecosystem. What does the dealership of 2030 look like?

EY - New car Buyers
EY - 4 out of 5

Emerging trends in automotive retail

These emerging trends are causing automotive retailers to rethink their current business models and undergo significant transformation in order to remain relevant and viable over the next decade.

Product innovation

Shift toward alternate powertrain, increasing penetration of connected vehicles and possible introduction of autonomous vehicles will bring in a different set of opportunities and challenges.

Digitalization across the value chain

Role of digital will intensify as technology proliferates and the retail industry continues to enhance customer experience for new as well as used cars.

Evolving mobility preferences

Shared mobility operating models are eliminating the need to own a vehicle. Profits will be determined by access to data and miles traveled, instead of units sold.

Transforming customer experience

The new mobility ecosystem comprises varied customer groups with divergent needs, requiring an omnichannel brand management strategy that ensures a consistent customer experience.

Unprecedented scrutiny and regulation

Governments are setting more aggressive targets to restrict sales of traditional powertrain vehicles. Antitrust regulation is intensifying competition for dealers in the aftersales market.

Disruptive competition

Direct sales and brand boutiques by OEMs, third-party service providers including digital giants such as Amazon in the automotive retail are challenging traditional dealership operations.

Most OEMs lack the necessary people, processes, technology and, most importantly, the seller mindset to make the shift from a wholesaler to a retailer. However, dealerships can’t let their advantages erode in an era of great change. They need to embrace digitalization and create a holistic digital and social media strategy covering the entire customer purchase journey. What should their strategies entail?

EY - Customers
EY - Dealers

Introducing digital helps enhance and understand the customer experience journey

Online visibility is critical to attract first-time customers. Internet and social media are now the first source of information. While a customer presently prefers to purchase a vehicle offline, a large part of the purchase journey is already digital.

Yet most dealers do not plan to invest in increasing their presence online. They do spend a significant amount on marketing to acquire customers; however, most times there is a wide gap between the dealer’s perception of their current initiatives and the actual customer experience.

Data analytics can reduce such inefficiencies by driving fact-based decision-making and supporting interventions across the customer life cycle. It will not only define and identify the potential of different customer segments, but also support acquisition of new customers, and improve customer experience and loyalty quotient.

EY - Information

Dealers have not aligned enough resources to the online purchase journey

According to an exercise conducted by EY around online vehicle sales, below are some of the best-in-class features exhibited by leading online vehicle sales portals:

  • Information phase: enhances the customer experience with digital tools to help select a product based on select requirements while providing product and sales process information via different channels such as videos, chats and texts
  • Consideration phase: provides the customer an interactive 3-D view, 360-degree videos and a virtual reality experience; allows comparison of vehicle financing products and booking test drives, including “bring” services
  • Purchase phase: provides flexibility and access to reserve a vehicle online (without any charges or with short-term online credit), allows for virtual documentation with e-signature, provides preferred mode of car delivery with real-time status

EY - Product Sales

With so much on the line at the first-visited dealership, sales personnel must gain customers’ trust and manage their experience throughout the purchase journey. Yet the rising complexity of retail operations and customer needs is rendering the traditional roles obsolete.

Dealerships need to upskill existing staff and additionally deploy specialized staff to stay relevant in the evolving ecosystem. We envision the new job portfolio to constitute new roles spread across product sales, customer experience and aftersales.

EY - Customer Touch

The above job portfolio comprises both completely new roles (such as mobility solution advisor) and adaptations of existing roles (such as sales consultant expert) to ensure an exceptional customer experience throughout the purchase journey. Also, while some roles exclusively include facing customers, in others the idea is to work in the background and support the front-end staff.

Let us show you how we can put our automotive retail solution portfolio to work for you, covering areas such as dealer operations, performance and system/process integration. Reach out to a leader below.


Randy Miller
EY Global Automotive & Transportation Sector Leader
Phone: +1 313 628 8642

David S Sanders
EY Global Advisory Leader, Automotive & Transportation Sector
Phone: +1 313 628 7201

Christian Zamet
EY Global Customer and Auto Retail Innovation Solution Co-Leader
Phone: +49 89 14331 0

John Whitcomb
EY Global Customer and Auto Retail Innovation Solution Co-Leader
Phone: +1 312 879 2093

Hanno Lorenzl
EY North America, Customer and Auto Retail Innovation Solution
Phone: +1 312 560 1644

Arne Herrmann
EY Germany, Executive Director, Advisory
Phone: +49 711 9881 18720

Anil Valsan
EY Global Automotive & Transportation Lead Analyst
Phone: +44 7903 206464

Regan Grant
EY Global Automotive & Transportation Marketing Leader
Phone: +1 313 628 8974