RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Declining sales margins and revenues are making traditional volume car sales less attractive.
  • Changes in customer behavior favor new mobility concepts and create lucrative new value pools.
  • New customer-centric sales strategies enable OEMs and dealers to thrive in the face of impending disruptions.


Established OEMs are facing turbulent times. Worldwide automotive sales are declining, policymakers are pushing the industry to reduce carbon emissions and technology is transforming the automotive business in record speed. With electrification, connectivity and sharing economy booming, automotive sales seems ripe for disruption.

In the past few years, hundreds of new players that seek to revolutionize mobility have entered the market. At the same time, customers are starting to turn their backs on traditional automotive retail.

We talked to the C-suite of established premium and volume OEMs, new market entrants, third-party platform providers and technology giants about the impending disruption of the automotive industry. Combining these insights, we have identified three promising avenues for OEMs and their dealers to pursue.

OEMs selling directly to their customers

Customers have been influenced by digital players such as Amazon or Netflix to expect new standards in terms of shopping and brand experience. In comparison, the process of buying a car seems outdated. As the future of automotive sales becomes more and more customer-centric, cars of the future can no longer be sold via the traditional channels of yesterday.

With direct sales, OEMs connect directly with their end-customers to offer a consistent, omni-channel end-to-end experience. Virtually all new and disruptive OEMs are relying on direct sales – Tesla, NIO and Byton are just some the most prominent examples.

"Selling directly to our customers can be a key for the future success of Mercedes-Benz. Together with our dealers, we will transform our sales model to enable a truly customer-centric sales experience."

– MARCUS BREITSCHWERDT, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, Daimler AG

For established OEMS, too, direct sales can unleash immense financial potential:

  • Up to 4% reduction in Cost of Retail based on local list prices
  • More than $1 billion of annual savings for an exemplary mid-sized sales region
  • Total FTE reduction of 3-7%, combining FTE ramp-up at the OEM level and FTE ramp-down at dealer level
  • Break even within 2-4 years depending on system and process maturity, market complexity, roll-out timing and other factors

Vehicle subscriptions and sharing models

Vehicle subscriptions and car sharing are seeing exceptional growth as they provide the convenience that today’s customers desire. New players have ventured into the industry and are offering mobility at flexible terms and low prices. Since 2010, more than €100 billion have been invested in mobility start-ups.

"We cannot sell the car of tomorrow via the channels of yesterday. […] The traditional way of buying and owning cars is obsolete!"

– STEFAN KRAUSE, Member of the Advisory Board, Canoo Inc.

With the goals of winning new customers and diversifying their portfolio, established OEMs, too, are embracing a new identity as a mobility provider. 54 percent of young customers that we surveyed are already using car sharing as their major means of transportation in urban areas. In the future, sharing models will gain in relevance.

By 2030, it is likely that:

  • car sharing will become 4-10x cheaper than car ownership
  • car ownership will drop by 80 percent
  • 1 in 10 cars on the streets will be shared cars

Platform business models

Leading firms such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Airbnb are demonstrating the power of platform economics. In automotive sales new players such as Carwow, Car Guru and mobile.de have launched platforms for private sellers and professional dealers to market their vehicles (new and used) to a large online audience. But there is yet another avenue for OEMs to harness the power of platform economics by turning the car itself into a platform. Just like Apple and Google are taking a cut from every App purchased through the App Store and Play Store, car makers strive to monetize location-based services, infotainment and other smart, flexible and convenient in car solutions.

"In times of platform economics, [customers] seek a one-stop shop. Whoever meets these demands best, will sell the mobility of the future."

– ALEXANDER SIXT, CAO and Member of the Management Board, Sixt SE

The future of automotive sales is exciting

By 2030, global automotive profits will nearly double to more than $344 billion and new technologies will contribute more than 30 percent of profits.



New customer-centric sales strategies allow OEMs to tap into these substantial new value pools. Investing in the right technologies, tools and expertise today ensures OEMs can participate in the continued growth and thrive in the face of impending disruptions.

The future of automotive sales starts now.

Axel Schmidt

Senior Managing Director – Global Mobility Industry Lead


​Johannes Trenka

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Customer Insights & Growth Strategy

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