Consumers increasingly behind automotive innovation, study finds

23 August 2017 5 min. read
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New technology, including the development of self-driving cars, is driving new trends in the automotive industry according to a new study. In the recent survey of consumers across ten countries,  seismic shifts were seen in attitudes toward four mega trends, electrification, connectivity, mobility and automation.

The transformation of the global light vehicle fleet in light of four key mega trends, electrification, connectivity, mobility and automation, is set to hit the accelerator over the next decades – driven by new technologies, changing consumer demand and the reality of the effect of the negative externalities of ICE on well-being and the environment.

In a new report from Roland Berger, the consultancy firm, among others, considers the reaction of 10,000 consumers to the four mega trends across key global demographic areas. The research covered ten areas, including Singapore, China, India, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, the UK, France, Japan and the US.

Car mobility across regions

Car sharing, carpooling, ride sharing, car rental business and taxi fleets are key modes through which mobility can transform the formerly individual or family car ownership models. Cars tend to see considerable downtime, standing idle 92% of the time, which creates considerable waste through underutilisation.

In terms of mobility concepts affecting peoples’ decision to buy a car in the respective countries surveyed, Singapore comes out far ahead – 31% of respondents said that they know ten or more people that did not want to buy a car because they exclusively use other mobility concepts, while 18% did not know anyone. China too has been considerably impacted by the mobility concept, with 69% of respondents knowing 2 or more people that don’t or did not want to buy a car because of their mobility choice.

On the other end of the scale is the US, where mobility is relatively muted, with 22% of respondents knowing more than 1 person whose decision making around car ownership has been affected by the concept. The UK is somewhat more affected by mobility at this stat, with 37% of respondents knowing at least one person who doesnt’t or did not want to buy a car because they exclusively use other mobility concepts.


Would you still buy a car again?

The rapid development of fully autonomous vehicles means that fully automated taxis could, within the next 15-20 years, be a reality. The effect of such services on car ownership could be dramatic, while insurers and the medical system too will be affected – fewer premiums and fewer accidents, respectively.

To gage in how far consumers in various regions would be affected by the chance to use autonomous vehicles for round-trips, the consulting firm asked respondents if they would still buy a car again if fully autonomous robocabs could be used at lower cost per trip compared to their own cars.

The Dutch were the most enthusiastic, with almost 60% saying that they would not buy a car again. The French and Japanese follow, at 57% and 56% respectively. In the UK 43% of respondents would opt for exclusive use of self-driving taxis. China and India have the lowest interest in the potential technology, at 27% and 33% respectively.

Usage of internet in vehicle purchasing

The research also explored the extent to which respondents are keen to use the internet in their vehicle purchasing considerations. The Chinese are the most notable users of the internet, with 61% saying that they will use it to inform themselves about the car and its features, while 71% say they will use it to access offers. 25 of respondents even said that they would buy directly through the internet. Indian consumers too are keen on using the internet, with 81% for information, 62% for offers to buy and 18% to buy directly. The least active are Japanese consumers, with 52% using the internet for information, 10% to get an offer, and 3% to buy directly – 43% of consumers do not use the internet for the process.

In the UK, 67% of respondents said that they would use the internet to access features, while 34% said that they use it to get offers to buy. A relatively larger proportion than most other country respondents said that they do not use the internet.

Considering buying an electric vehicle?

The number of respondents that are considering the purchase of a battery electric vehicle as their next car varies somewhat across countries – in China for instance, 60% of respondents said that they would consider it, in South Korea this stood at 54%, in India at 51% and in Singapore at 43%.

In the US the number stood at 20% however, while in Japan, the Netherlands and the UK, consumers considering an electric vehicle remain relatively subdued, at 22%, 24% and 25% respectively.

According to Wolfgang Bernhart, Partner at Roland Berger, the developments revealed in the firm's study show that the entire automotive industry is approaching the end of an era, while new momentum in the market is driven by a change in customer expectations.

He concluded, "There's a balancing act to be done here: OEMs and suppliers alike need to respond to the disruption and develop new potential. But they can't just break away from their existing infrastructure, they need to actively work through the process of transformation. That is the biggest challenge for the market players.”