FEATURE: DIGITAL SOLUTIONS SMORGASBOARD IN LAS VEGAS: RIDE THE TIDE: HOW DEALERSHIPS CAN PROFIT FROM THE GROWING RIDESHARING TREND

One of the most informative and valuable sessions at the Digital Dealer Conference was the keynote address given by Tom Leahy, Head of Auto Partnerships, Lyft.

Like Uber, Lyft is an on-demand transportation company, operating in more than 300 cities in the USA, with plans to expand internationally.

Mr Leahy told his audience that, by 2030, rideshare is estimated to represent 26 per cent of all ground miles travelled, “which may cause more than a few sleepless nights for businesses that hinge on personal car ownership”.

“But there’s no need for dealerships to worry,” he said. “In fact, rideshare presents an opportunity for strategic growth.”

Mr Leahy shared how integrating rideshare into their processes can differentiate Dealers from the competition and yield positive results such as improved customer satisfaction, increased service centre efficiency, lower courtesy transportation costs and growth in new customer revenue.

Attendees learned about the state of ridesharing today and trends of adoption; how this growth will affect the automotive industry, how they can leverage rideshare in their own business operations and how to determine if integrating rideshare would be beneficial for their dealerships.

Mr Leahy leads Auto Partnerships for Lyft Business, Lyft’s B-2-B division that helps companies leverage Lyft to move the people they care about around more efficiently.

He has helped drive Lyft’s presence in the automotive sector by forming partnerships with auto dealerships, rental car companies, auto shops and car insurance companies to improve their customer experience through better transportation, as well as enabling them to profit from referring, servicing and providing vehicles for Lyft’s network of 1.5 million drivers.

Mr Leahy spoke about the growth of transportation as a service, and how Dealers can bring rideshare drivers into their customer base, leveraging rideshare to improve service centre efficiency and uncover opportunities to drive their business forward with rideshare.

Ridesharing drives auto sales

At first, ridesharing doesn’t seem like it would change the automobile market, but the phenomenon is shaking up the mobility industry as profoundly as anything, and it could ultimately change the way cars are designed, built and distributed.

Ridesharing, both with privately-owned vehicles and with fleets owned by the automakers or other corporate entities, is likely to change the nature of automobile use and ownership first.

There will be fewer private vehicles, but there will be a counterbalancing effect of new shared vehicles. These shared vehicles will have a shorter lifetime because they’ll be used much more.

For automakers, the ridesharing revolution offers huge potential. Putting customers into ridesharing cars exposes them to the car’s brand and may create future customers.

Building and selling cars will no longer be enough. Increased focus on the customer, and what’s affordable and convenient for them, will be required.

Ridesharing is still growing

One thing that’s certain is that ridesharing will continue to grow. Surveys across a range of markets have found that 83 per cent of people who use ridesharing services do so because it’s convenient, and 67 per cent of them want to increase the amount of ridesharing they do. This shows that a large part of this market remains unaddressed.
As delegates to the AADA National Dealer Convention and Expo would be aware, disruption is a factor Dealers have to consider. There are four main drivers of disruption in transportation and mobility today: autonomy, electrification, connectivity and shared mobility. Those trends are not possible without each other and they are accelerating each other.

Ridesharing needs autonomous cars

Not even the experts have answered all the key questions yet. We don’t know if it will be an existing OEM or a revolutionary outsider who will turn the industry upside-down. One thing that could be a stepping-stone is a purpose-built vehicle for ridesharing. Currently a shared ride is a standard car but in the future we could see purpose-built vehicles, as has been the case in the past for taxi services, such as the Checker Marathon and the London Taxi, which were both designed for ridesharing and survived mostly unchanged for decades.

Experts predict that as soon as autonomy arrives as a viable transport option it will significantly increase the business case for shared mobility.

Ridesharing requires connectivity

Most people think about vehicle connectivity in terms of using a phone in their car, or booking a table at a restaurant through an app on the dashboard.

However, when we combine autonomy and shared mobility, we see just how much more is involved. Both autonomy and connectivity will be necessary for the shared mobility revolution to occur: first the rider must hail the car and then the car must respond in an accurate and timely manner.

The key focus for developers is on the time the customer spends in the car. Autonomous vehicle developers are trying to rethink the program from a customer point of view, and the main area in this regard is personalisation.

Our smart phones are tailored to us and so will be the next generation of vehicles. There’s a direct connection between autonomy and connectivity in making use of the time in the car.

Considering it is already a big and fast-growing market, it is clear that ridesharing is only going to increase as time goes on. As with all the changes and challenges we face, it will be up to Dealers to ensure they adapt and are ready for the coming revolution.

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