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TAKE POLL The Coming Self-Driving Car Disruption

Steve Stauning

3rd Base Coach
Mar 15, 2012
First Name
There's been near-constant chatter about the coming "revolution" in new car sales since at least 1997 and although there has certainly been an evolution, there has been no non-recession disruption to the livelihoods of Dealers or dealer groups over that time.

Well, I strongly believe there is a major disruption on the horizon, and that this disruption will have little to do with the TrueCars, the Amazons and the Carvanas of the world and everything to do with autonomous vehicles.

I wrote two posts about this last year (http://askthemanager.com/2015/09/i-will-never-own-a-self-driving-car-and-neither-will-you/ and http://askthemanager.com/2015/09/self-driving-cars-the-winners-and-the-losers/).

And then followed those up with a post yesterday: http://askthemanager.com/2016/08/ho...for-the-coming-autonomous-vehicle-disruption/

In response to yesterday's post, a fellow car guy texted me this: ""People buy cars for pride!!!"

So, I asked him if he's ever seen the parking lot at a Walmart where 95% of the vehicles were clearly bought for transportation and not pride.

He responded "Oh... yeah."

Many of us in the car business (especially if we also enjoy the art of driving) think that people will ALWAYS own cars. The truth is, they will not. Once it's cheaper and safer and more convenient to take an Automatic-Uber to work or the airport or wherever, most people will stop buying cars. How Dealers, industry vendors and especially the Dealer Groups prepare for this will be interesting to watch.
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Chris Cachor

3rd Base Coach
Apr 29, 2011
First Name
I have a hunch that Uber, Google, Apple, Tesla, etc. are aiming for a future where your everyday car is mostly out of reach for average families. I think that future is much much further away than some people believe. I think self-driving commercial vehicles will be on the road across the US quicker than consumer vehicles, though. Self-driving cars are great for dense metropolitan areas as well as road trips, but I'm still in the camp where I want to be in control when I feel like it. Self-driving cars are a major insurance liability and that's the reason I think they'll be owned by large multi-national corporations that are hard to sue and can defend themselves against litigation. Dealers should be more worried about electric cars and their service departments than self-driving cars, IMO.

Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
First Name
Totally agree with your articles, on this subject, Steve :thumbup:

I haven't checked in a while, but has there been any more rumblings about the FTC opening the debate on whether franchise laws help consumers?


Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
First Name
Autonomous as Uncle Joe sees it.

Self-driving cars will evolve. NHTA has 5 levels of self-driving conditions.
I've added the Olympics to fire your imagination.

2012 Olympics = "Autonmous what?"
2016 Olympics = Tesla thrust us all into stage 2.
2020 Olympics = Ford's CEO just announced full automation in 5 years


Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
First Name
In the future, Shoppers will buy cars in packages based on what NHSTA level it offers. IMO, this will fuel a tradein cycle like we've never seen before. IMO, this 5-15yr period will be the zenith of car dealerships.

On-demand robots transfer all vehicle ownership responsibilities to a 3rd party. This multi-million dollar biz will spring up in key markets, but, it'll take many years to deploy nationwide.

My instincts are telling me the self-driving robot adoption timeline, lines up well with the cellular phone timeline (e.g. Cell phone networks started in major metro markets in slowly came to smaller and smaller markets)

8 months ago I wrote on this theme:

Disruption, seen thru the users eye, by decade.
  • 1980's: A phone was in your house.
  • 1990's: A phone was in your house and in your car
  • 2000's: A phone was in your house and your pocket
  • 2010's: You have a computer in your pocket that you can make calls on.
  • 2015's: What's a house phone?

Parallels to today?
Today's cars are like a phone in your home (been around for generations)
Self-driving cars are like upgrading to a cellular phone in your car (it changed everything)
Robotic Self-driving cars are a smart phone is to a landline. (the same, but, two completely different UX's... and a LOT more money too!)
How long will it take? Not sure. It took 5 years for Apple's iPhone to kill BlackBerry. If I were to bet on it, I'd see today's product engineering wizards and the billions$$ to be made and all the players aiming at the same target... I'm taking the under bet.

That's how I see our future.
-Uncle Joe



Rust & Dust
Mar 17, 2011
First Name
Steve you've done an exceptional job supporting your case across the articles. I voted that they are already feeling it and just don't know it yet because reality is the bulk of the dealer business model is designed for consumer drivers and as you and others have pointed out, this is already a diminishing consumer base.

@Chris Cachor makes a good point about commercial vehicles and autonomy. This is where I expect to see a more immediate shift. This and with taxies. I'm surprised we're not already seeing autonomous semis on the highway the way we're seeing Uber and Lyft in metro areas.

Cities such as Indianapolis and San Antonio are already implementing the infrastructure for shared vehicle lifestyles as opposed to vehicle ownership.

@JoePistell I'm going on my gut here but I suspect the transformation with autonomous driving to swoop more quickly than cell phones. The technology is being introduced so rapidly and it's so disruptive that laws and policy and regulation will be forced to adapt as swiftly to avoid mayhem. We've seen more progress in this area in the last four years like you pointed out I'd say it's already moving faster than we all would expect.

Good stuff @Stauning I love this topic.
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Dec 17, 2009
First Name
The owner and I were having this conversation yesterday, @Stauning did the work for me with this question. As a smaller dealer group, we can adapt reasonably fast. But, our question is how to prepare for the changes as they come into the market.