Connectivity the key, say auto execs

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Automotive executives are embracing connectivity like never before, according to this year’s KPMG Global Automotive Executive Survey. “It’s gone from number 10 to number 1 in order of importance, and that’s huge,” says KPMG’s National Automotive Sector Leader, Peter Hatges.

The annual assessment of the current state and future prospects of the worldwide automotive industry asked 800 auto executives in 38 countries for their views on business model disruption, connectivity and digitalization, customer data, new products and auto industry winners and losers.

For the past three years the top concern has been growth in emerging markets. That’s now dropped to number 4, with “connectivity and digitalization” becoming the overarching trend — one that is expected to significantly disrupt the auto industry until 2025, according to more than 80 per cent of respondents.

“Consumers have made it a priority. We have to always be connected. We’re not willing to drive four hours without it,” says Hatges.

The surveyed executives also gave more importance to autonomous and self-driving vehicles than in the past, and in particular to technology geared to safety, says Hatges, citing the use of the windshield for heads-up display of information as just one example.

It all points to a more service-oriented and new data driven model than in the past, and OEMs will need to transform into becoming consumer-oriented service providers, according to KPMG.

The companies that are getting it right, says Hatges, include this year’s top five — Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen, Hyundai (last year’s owner of the top spot) and Ford — who are expected to be the biggest risers in market share.

BMW and Toyota will be leaders in the field of e-mobility and autonomous driving, according to the survey, and are also ranked as being the most groundbreaking innovators, followed by Honda, Ford and Tesla.

“There is no doubt: exciting times are ahead,” says Dieter Becker, global head of automotive, KPMG International. “We believe these changes will help convert the industry into the next development cycle and we should see these changes as a huge chance and not as a risk.”

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