In 1999 I was a comparatively young man, Manchester United had a great football team, and the internet was a technology with potential. How all that has changed! My predecessor as head of automotive at Capgemini had the clever idea to invest in a survey to look at how the buying of cars might change in the future based on the internet, and CarsOnline was born. It got huge amounts of column-inches in the press globally, and paid for itself more from glitzy publicity than from any intrinsic consulting value. 11% of the consumers surveyed said they used the internet in some way, and there were many respondents who forecast that the internet was going to change the consumer buying model across many industries like retail and automotive.
15 years on and it is fascinating to see the way the internet has evolved. Today 9X% of automotive consumers globally use the internet as part of the buying process, but almost nobody performs the end2end cycle online. Whereas high street retailers have had to adapt to major changes in footfalls and sales volumes through their physical stores, dealerships have hardly suffered any cannibalism at all up to now. The internet – if used well – is a fantastic, indispensible sales aid for both OEMs and dealers – and of course consumers.
Over the past 15 years there have been many other surveys done looking at the impact of the internet on the automotive ownership cycle, but I am pleased to say that CarsOnline still holds a special place in the Marketing Sales & Service departments of many OEMs. Not only do we look forward to the results so as to help us with up-to-date market information on consumer behaviour to better support our clients, but we know from the emails we receive that many of our clients are just as eager to get the results as soon as they are available. This year we are launching CarsOnline on May 13th in Shanghai  – I can’t wait to get the results!

Generation Connected – Cars Online 2014