Automotive Blog

Building Future Automotive … one linkage at a time


ICDP’s 2017-2018 European research programme, Building Future Automotive, which completes at the end of March, has been focusing on the accelerating pace of innovation and change in the automotive retail and aftersales sector, and working to understand the nature and implications of these trends, assimilating our research and data to explore scenarios and options.

Nearly all of the individual research topics have now been reported in a variety of workshops, webinars, main meeting presentations, and a number have also featured at in-house sessions and feedbacks with our individual member companies, an offer that we encourage all members to take us up on to help disseminate and internalise our insights.

But whilst the individual topics are all interesting and relevant in isolation, and we would say that, what really unlocks their value are the linkages we are able to draw between them thanks to our broad coverage and deep experience of the downstream world.  Whether it is thinking through how emerging customer preferences should affect future channel design, looking at the interplay between supply chain functionality and dealer margin structures, evaluating how franchised versus independent sector aftermarket competition will be impacted by the connected car, or at how far and how fast mobility services might scale beyond the major cities, our team of curious minds generates many more hypotheses, ideas, and insights than we can cram into our regular topic outputs.  And yet, it is precisely these linkages that are so valuable as strategic inputs, allowing our member companies to explore the ‘what ifs’, to uncover opportunities, and to guard against unintended consequences.  A key part of Building Future Automotive in other words.

Every year, we hold our Spring Meeting to mark the completion of the annual European programme; this year’s will be held on Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th March in Berlin, always such a thought-provoking city to visit.  As well as giving the highlights of the work we have done across the year, the Spring Meeting is where we also let the team off the leash just a little bit, and encourage them to bring out these linkages between the topics, the ‘so whats’, and to seek validation for them from the audience.  Usually our views are supported, occasionally they aren’t, but along the way we enjoy an open debate that reflects the different perspectives of our members from right across the sector, and we all go away having learnt new things.  Or we retire to the bar to carry on debating them …

We like to work our audiences hard; this year we will have seven themes to address in our day and a half together.  The original ‘short list’ was even longer …

  • How the customer’s new and used car, and aftersales buying journey is being transformed by digital channels
  • How new in-car technologies, especially electrification and connectivity, are changing the nature of the product and its aftersales needs
  • How new outlet formats, online platforms, and third party ‘disruptors’ are altering revenue sources and contributing to a shift in the role of dealers, independent importers, and national sales companies
  • How supply chains for new cars cope with growing operational complexity and market volatility
  • How the independent aftermarket is evolving in the face of a variety of pressures
  • How spare parts distribution channels in both the OEM and independent worlds are consolidating
  • How mobility schemes are starting to challenge the traditional notion of individual car ‘ownership’

If your company is a member of the European research programme and you haven’t yet booked to attend, we would say “Why not?” and “Hurry up”, because spaces are filling up.  If you would like to find out more about what you are missing, do contact Jane Trace at the ICDP Project Office or book online HERE.  See you in Berlin!


Written by Andrew Tongue

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