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Most new cars have some kind of connectivity, ranging from emergency positioning only to full-fledged online entertainment system for all seats. Some models even come with three SIM cards preinstalled; the dealer just activates the suitable one upon delivering the car to the consumer.

What puzzles me is that even with all this technology and opportunities, car manufacturers’ business models are still strongly in the fire-and-forget mode, meaning that the car usage data is virtually unused after the buyer has piled the cash on the dealer’s table. Yes, some three years after the purchase, the dealer might dig an old Salesforce entry and send a standard ad to a customer’s outdated email address. At that point, the customer has likely already chosen a new car, possibly from a competitor.

If we bypass all the supply chain and aftermarket legacies and convenient, lazy ways of doing business, the car manufacturer’s most precious asset is the relationship with the end customer. A car is a large investment for most people, and with careful, data privacy conscious way the manufacturer could build an arsenal of transportation related services individually tailored to each customer. All this big data already exists, but the problem is that the manufacturers’ management is still applying the rules from the previous millennium and assuming that the raw materials will continue to be cheap and abundant so that the only concern is how to make mass production as efficient as possible.

Each car already has a sort of Digital Twin, containing all data from the production line. Moving this into a full spime, alive until the car is finally recycled, is the logical next step. This, however, needs new kind of thinking from the manufacturer – it’s no longer ‘concentrating on the core business’ or ‘making production as efficient as possible’, or ‘negotiating best prices on the supply chain’ – but mostly about preempting and projecting customers’ needs and wishes, including broader values like corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability. This needs to be done every day, for every customer. Yes, welcome to the real service business.

When customer behavior is mapped, there’s also a lot of room for opportunism. If you have the end-user’s ‘car deal’, why not expand it to a wider transportation deal, including bikes, boats, holiday rental cars? Trailers maybe? Not just as gimmicks, but as part of ‘core business’?

Like taxi companies, car manufacturers can wait for the Uber moment and then frantically try to survive. But there’s a smarter way with spimes.


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