Metalsmith or Grid Master

Metalsmith or Grid Master

The automotive industry at the crossroads of a highly digitalized age.

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Automakers are standing at an important crossroads:

Do they want to be "mere" metalsmiths, leaving the field to innovative players to compete for data at the customer interface and hence becoming suppliers of vehicles (mobile data rooms) for Apple or Google?

Or will they be able to evolve into grid masters, expanding their business model beyond simply constructing outstanding vehicles to accompany their customers with customized, vehicle-dependent and ever more important vehicle-independent product features and services throughout their entire lifecycle, 24 hours a day? – Dieter Becker, Global Sector Chair, Automotive

Digitalization in the auto industry and its impact on manufacturers and consumers

Digitalization will profoundly change the meaning of “the car”. The motorist of today, is not content to have a car transport him from point A to B, rather he is also seeking to use his travel time efficiently. People are now accustomed to being constantly connected to the Internet; so the car that offers connectivity in the most meaningful way could be the preferred choice for the consumer. As a result, the business model of the carmaker is changing dramatically.

One thing is certain: the car in interaction with the man and his environment is a gigantic data-generating machine. This data can be the fuel of future business models in the auto industry which offers great opportunities, but also the responsibility of data protection among other issues.

The confidence of the consumer in automotive companies and their strong brands could be a decisive competitive advantage over other players like Google, Apple and Amazon, who also recognize the potential of revenue streams from the connected vehicle. One critical factor for automotive manufacturers is, product development cycles will have to adapt to the fast pace of Internet technologies:

  • How can the carmaker keep up with constantly evolving software and hardware?
  • Will software updates be just as important, or even more important than classical model enhancements in the future?
  • Are Internet giants and young tech companies serious rivals to established manufacturers, in the battle for the customer interface or are there opportunities for collaboration?
  • What can we learn from the example of Uber?

This report explores these issues and offers insights from global automotive professionals. 

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