It is no secret
that the automobile industry is experiencing a period of incredible rebirth and change.
From my perspective as a dealer principal, it is exciting to be part of this industry as so many changes are taking place. With the start of a new year and decade, I thought it would be interesting to examine some of the automotive trends I foresee for the next 12 months.
The Customer Experience
Over the past decade, the car-buying experience has become more streamlined and personalized. All dealership activities — building renovations, software upgrades, internal processes, employee training, online platforms — are geared toward providing an optimum buying experience for customers. Dealerships will continue to improve all aspects of their operations in order to meet, and exceed, customer expectations. Increased use of data and analytic capabilities has allowed dealerships to deliver targeted messages across multiple platforms at the right time. This trend of staying connected with and delivering highly personalized services will continue to grow in 2020.
The continuing popularity of auto shows illustrates the high level of interest in automobiles and auto culture. Yes, the internet has forever changed how people research and buy automobiles, but the desire to view vehicles up close, and to be part of a shared automotive experience, is as strong as ever. The upcoming 2020 Canadian International AutoShow (Feb. 14-23), with its theme of “Transformative Times,” offers a stellar lineup of exhibits and attractions that include auto premières, collector cars, new technologies, careers and education and esports. For information about this year’s AutoShow, visit autoshow.ca
GM’s recent announcement of plans to build a $2.3-billion battery factory to increase production of electric vehicles and Ford’s announcement (in early 2019) of an $11-billion investment in electrification, with plans to put 40 new electrified vehicles on the road by 2022, are clear indications of where the industry is heading. Expect a wide range of battery-electric vehicles to be unveiled in 2020, as this segment of the industry continues to grow.
Increased use of Carbon Fibre
Carbon fibre is a lightweight material that has been used in racing cars since 1981. Its key benefit is its strength — it is five times lighter and 10 times stronger than steel. Automakers have used carbon fibre sparingly in hoods, roofs and body panels, and some automakers are now using the material for whole inner-body structures. Volvo’s new Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid and Polestar 2 EV will include carbon fibre in its inner construction, and GM will use the composite in its new bed assemblies on the Silverado/Sierra platform. The manufacturer that I represent, Ford, has used carbon fibre on its performance wheels on the Mustang GT350R. Look for more automakers to employ this material in 2020 and beyond.
Cars as Digital Platforms
Today’s vehicles are no longer isolated units on the roads and highways. They are integrated digital platforms that monitor your driving activity, inform you about mechanical deficiencies and repairs, provide GPS information, assist with driving safety (lane-departure systems, forward collision-warning systems, brake assist, etc.), provide infotainment services and facilitate software updates remotely. In 2020 and beyond, vehicles will become more infused with technology and more connected to drivers’ digital lifestyles.
On behalf of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Please drive safely.
Once again, the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association is proud to support Prostate Cancer Canada. This year, our association has donated two 2020 Toyota GR Supras — one in Nocturnal black and one in Renaissance red (valued at $152,000 together). The Rock the Road Raffle draw will take place at the 2020 Canadian International AutoShow. For ticket information, visit rocktheroadraffle.ca.
This column represents the views and values of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to tada.ca. Cliff Lafreniere is president of the TADA and is president of Pinewood Park Motors (Ford) in Kirkland Lake. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.