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Auto Brands Put Mobile in the Front Seat

Mobile apps include vehicle catalogs and reference manuals

Connected car systems are becomingly increasingly important to auto buyers, and manufacturers have taken notice, offering a variety of internet-enabled options, from smartphone integration to technology embedded into the car.

GSMA, a group representing mobile operators around the world, predicted that last year’s global shipments of cars with embedded technology reached 5.44 million, and by 2018 that number will grow to 35.94 million. Smartphone systems, in which car manufacturers create mobile technology such as apps for drivers to use, will also remain popular. Shipments of cars with these features will grow from 1.94 million in 2012 to 20.98 million by the end of the forecast period, according to GSMA.

When it comes to exploring smartphone offerings, auto brands are building mobile apps and websites with features that can appeal to both buyers and drivers.

L2 Think Tank in April 2013 found that the most popular feature on mobile brand websites, used by all of the 36 worldwide sites studied, was a 1-click dealer locator feature, pointing to the importance of the smartphone in the auto path to purchase. But the next most popular feature had utility for both drivers and buyers—geolocation via GPS, employed by 75% of sites. This was tied with touch and swipe support, a useful feature that allows drivers to get help while on the road—or, hopefully, on the side of the road.

On auto brand apps, the No. 1 feature was the vehicle brochure or catalog, available in 68% of studied apps. This feature presumably allows auto shoppers to look through an auto brand’s full set of car models. But the next most popular features were useful for drivers in particular, rather than shoppers: Connected car utility features were available in 40% of apps, followed by the reference manual, offered by 30%. And 25% of auto brand apps provided roadside assistance integration.

As auto brands look to capture more market share, mobile connectivity will continue to be critical to get new car buyers into dealerships and then convince them that the model on offer has the digital features they want.


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