Forget the Future of Mobility

The future of mobility as imagined by Ideo

Forget the Future of Mobility, Modernize the Now

The future of mobility is sexy — Google started its Self-Driving Car Project a short seven years ago, and now, OEMs are launching their own autonomous vehicle initiatives, while ride sharing giants Uber & Lyft are also getting into the game. Who will win the race and what will be the impact on the automotive industry at large? Everyone is sure to have an opinion, and while these technological achievements are indeed spectacular, a recent study concludes we are 20 years away from autonomous vehicles being even a quarter of cars sold in the U.S. And that still could prove to be an optimistic forecast.

So what do we do until then?

As the pace of technological advancement quickens and excitement builds, I am struck by how archaic the car buying technology we use today feels. With 20+ years to wait before we see an abundance of autonomous cars on the road every day, shouldn’t we be rigorously addressing the frustration we all still feel with how we buy and sell cars in the here and now?

Car buying should feel as modern as the self driving features of the vehicles themselves.

A number of startups have raised significant funding to disintermediate dealerships with a better end-to-end, online shopping experience. Interestingly, all of these startups are only tackling the used car segment, effecting change without challenging the seemingly impenetrable state franchise laws. In contrast, progress in the new car space has been slow and incremental, with most players focusing on addressing dealer inefficiencies through point solutions for improved inventory tracking, desking automation, F&I streamlining, instant trade-in tools, etc. The overall sales experience has remained nearly as inefficient and painful as it was 20 years ago, for both car buyers and dealers.

Even as they start to contemplate the future of mobility, large OEMs and Franchise Dealer Groups are very aware that their current retail experiences leave a lot to be desired. Some are starting to develop proprietary online tools and retailing platforms for their current customers, moving toward very basic ecommerce concepts. Even Amazon is now in the game, albeit only with a toe into the research process. None of these players are looking at the holistic buying process and developing end-to-end, consumer centric experiences for today’s car buyer.

At Roadster, we believe that the way to transform car buying is to reimagine and redesign the entire buying experience and make the solution universally available; to leverage technology that is both customer facing and dealer facing; and to make it as accessible from home as it is from the showroom. Not just for used cars, or just for new cars, but for all cars. We have developed the only commerce platform available to dealers that truly covers every touch point of the car buying experience.

With Roadster Express Storefront, dealers can immediately modernize their experience with a white labeled commerce solution to merchandise their vehicles, offer self service desking tools, present F&I products, provide instant trade-in offers, check credit, and schedule in-store or home delivery. This process can be done from the comfort of the customer’s home or on an iPad in the showroom, allowing for a personalized experience.

In-store sales teams have access to all of the customer’s data from their phone or tablet and can make adjustments and recalculate deal terms in real-time. The most successful dealerships are integrating this technology into their sales process for all customers, even the ones who just walked into the dealership, because they know it will not only delight customers, it will also drive significant transparency and efficiency into their existing sales process.

Dealers are looking for ways to speed up the purchase process so that they can handle more sales. But there are other reasons to automate the process with an end to end Commerce solution — reduce redundant tool expenses, simplify sales training, adjust staffing allocation, improve dealership review scores, and more. The cost savings can be very significant.

With this level of custom automation, dealerships can transform their business processes and provide customers with the modern experience they expect. It may not be as sexy as autonomous cars, but the near term implications are significant. And while everyone is focused on the future of mobility, we have a chance to truly transform today.

Are you ready?


Rudi Thun has been a leader in online automotive for over 15 years, including executive roles at eBay Motors, CarWoo!, and Autoblog. Thun earned his MBA from University of California at Berkeley, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University. He is now the founder and COO of Roadster, the leading ecommerce platform provider for the automotive industry, powering Express Storefronts for dealership retail sales. To learn more, go to