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The changing landscape of automotive.

Visit to a Jeep Dealership

Barely a day goes by in the automotive world where ‘agency model’ or ‘online sales’ aren’t a hot topic of discussion. It’s a story myself and the team at We Are Acuity play close attention to as experts in local automotive marketing.

But how is the transition to online really going? Are consumers ready for such a significant purchase to take place online, one that you’d typically touch and feel before committing to. And are brands set up to do the sales job performed at scale by dealer networks for the past 100 years.

You’ll have your own view based on what would be right for you as a punter, but it's interesting to see what’s happening on a brand-by-brand basis as everyone jostles for position and keeps an eye on the competition.

In December it was confirmed that Stellantis brands were putting their move to agency model on hold until late 2026. Quite a delay. In fact, in a recent interview with Car Buyer magazine the Vauxhall Motors Ltd brand stated their network is ‘one of their biggest strengths’ and will play a crucial role in supporting customers switching to Electric Vehicles. This announcement came hot on the heels of BMW Group pushing back the implementation of agency sales in the UK by at least six months. No doubt they’ll be closely observing how some their key competitors handle the transition.

Then you have the new Chinese brands entering the UK market for the first time – the likes of OMODA UK and BYD – who see building networks of experienced retail partners as a key part of their launch strategy as they look to establish their brands.

Elsewhere you’ve got those who have made the switch to online retailing already. Volvo Car UK are an example of this having moved to agency model in 2023. But they have also stressed that their network have an important role to play within their sales strategy to ensure a seamless online and physical customer experience. It would appear that retailers are onboard with Lookers Motor Group Limited recently investing £2.5m in a new state of the art Volvo showroom as they look to offer exceptional service for their local customers.

Pushing the boundaries of online sales even further are Hyundai in the USA. They’ve entered a strategic partnership with Amazon with a view to selling in stock cars on the platform in 2024 including finance, insurance and accessories. If all goes well, maybe this could be available to UK consumers in the future.

It’s a time like never before with OEMs employing different tactics and testing new methods, but the local dealership still has an important role to play. A change of role perhaps as it becomes more about experience and less about deals. What’s clear is that bricks and mortar Retailers will continue to add significant value to local consumers moving forwards. 2024 should provide some fascinating insights in this space.

If you work within automotive, be it a retailer or at brand level, we’d love to understand your view and talk to you about the future of auto retailing. Why not schedule a FREE 30-minute assessment today here? It will be well worth your time.

Or alternatively read more about Local Marketing on our blog page "Local Thinking': https://www.weareacuity.com/local-thinking-our-blog

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