According to the annual EY Mobility Consumer Index 2022, the percentage of consumers who use digital channels for car purchases rose from less than a fifth (18%) in 2021 to more than a quarter (26%) in 2022.

Additionally, the survey found that two thirds (66%) of car buyers prefer to use apps, websites, and social media to gather information about a prospective purchase, with electric vehicle (EV) buyers being the demographic most likely to use online research tools like price calculators and car configurators.

These statistics illustrate the growing role of digital in the automotive customer journey, particularly in the research stage, but increasingly in the purchase stage as well. At the same time, EY’s research asserted that “Physical touchpoints are here to stay” – highlighting that 63% of car buyers prefer to act with a salesperson at a dealership to gather information, while 64% of new car buyers prefer to purchase their car from a dealership or showroom (though this drops to 39% for used car buyers).

This presents a challenge for both OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and dealerships, who must cater to a customer base that often switches between digital and physical touchpoints during their customer journey, and ensure that the overall customer journey is seamless no matter how buyers prefer to interact.

These aren’t the only challenges and changes currently facing the automotive sector. In this edition of Digital Transformation Monthly, we’ll take a close look at key stories that illustrate significant trends, from the rise of subscription models for both vehicle purchases and in-car transactions, to the woes facing disruptors in the used car space.

We’ll analyse the advent of the ‘agency model’ for car-buying through the lens of Ford’s overhaul of the customer journey; consider whether the odds are stacked against online-only brands in the automotive sector; and look at General Motors’ pivot to a software platform innovator, rather than a purely hardware-driven brand, as the ‘software-defined vehicle’ takes centre stage in 2023.

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