Communications is driving the car business

The automotive industry is facing a major revolution. Ride sharing, autonomous vehicles, alternative powertrains and other new technology entrants will disrupt a business model that has remained mostly the same for 100 years, and contributes more than $900 billion to the U.S. economy.

But that future won’t be a reality in 2018. What’s impacting the success of automakers in the immediate future is communications.

Communications technologies

People today are spending more than four hours a day on their smartphones — talking, messaging and using social media. And that is particularly true for millennials, who are becoming car owners at record numbers.

Customers today expect to continue this hyper-connectivity inside their vehicle including the ability to communicate with their friends and family across a variety of technology applications. Nearly half of consumers — 48 percent — prioritize in-vehicle technology over brand or body style according to a recent Autotrader study. And the technology they are referencing is nearly all related to communications.

When a consumer buys a car today they demand the ability to seamlessly integrate their communications device with the car. That’s why companies that have been quick to incorporate technologies like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have seen the most success.

These applications allow a consumer to safely use the functionally of their smart phone directly on the car’s built-in display. It enables voice commands, calling and reading and writing text messages, among many other features. Safely communicating while driving has become one of the top reasons consumers select a certain car, much more than driving dynamics, horsepower or other leading features of the past.

This integration also applies to in-home technologies. Devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa can now remotely control features of your car. Owners want the convenience of locking, unlocking and remote starting their vehicles from the comfort of their couch, kitchen or bedroom using voice commands.

Changing retail communications

New ways of communicating with customers have also become crucial as the shopping process continues to evolve. Today, car shoppers have on average 24 different touch points with a manufacturer before purchase — 19 of them are digital. But prior to making a decision they are visiting less than two dealerships on average.

Digitally communicating with in-market shoppers and providing personalized messages is the expectation. At Hyundai, we tailor content and messaging depending on where customers are in the purchasing process. For example, a shopper that’s at the comparison stage will be directed to pages showing our strengths versus the competitors, but someone that’s looking at a specific model will see inventory at their local dealer. Once they decide to buy, we provide a complete set of digital tools to streamline the process and make the dealership experience shorter and more enjoyable.

In 20 years, we might not be driving our own cars, but in 2018 the companies that standout will be the ones driving communications to the forefront of their technology offerings and shopping experience.

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