It’s highly likely the automotive sector is about to undergo its most significant shift in history as we see changes coming from all directions in a remarkably short period.

The plunging cost of batteries and rapid improvements in energy density means that the way cars are propelled is changing rapidly. Electric cars usher in a new way of thinking about vehicles. The lesson here for brands is clear: As a category leader it’s easy to gain comfort, but when a fundamental shift happens, former strengths can fast become weaknesses.

Cars have offered augmented driving for years through lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, and even self-parking. Self-driving cars change the very fundamentals of cars and life. Brands need to look to this in many ways. What does advertising become in these new environments? Many opportunities emerge.

More than anything else we can see a shift from ownership to access. If cars are self-driving, they soon become more like an annual contract to a mobile phone plan than to a vehicle to own. Self-driving cars create opportunities to focus more on the consumer’s needs at different moments in their life and in time. When we pay to get from A to B, it becomes more about the quality of that service, and the overall value brands deliver to the consumer.


Author: Tom Goodwin, EVP, Head of Innovation, Zenith USA