Three For One: AIA’s president and industry experts talk post-COVID

Toronto, Ontario – The Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s president J.F. Champagne was featured alongside auto industry experts during a Thursday webinar centring around the theme of “Coming out Stronger Post COVID-19.”

Champagne’s opening address to the virtual “Automotive Diaries” audience discussing the current state of the automotive aftermarket industry was followed by additional presentations from Relevant Insights’ Michaela Mora and Stephen Popiel of Phoenix Marketing International.

The AIA president delved into current aftermarket statistics, noting growth totalling a value of $21.6 billion in Canada, with about 398,900 Canadians currently employed in the sector.

Michaela Mora of market research firm Relevant Insights led discussions surrounding UX (user experience) and adjustments that auto manufacturers must make when considering that more and more of the car-buying process is taking place online.

Mora cited statistics that state that 92 percent of auto buyers do their research for new vehicles online and that 18 percent of buyers would have purchased a vehicle sooner, had there been an online purchase option available. Especially given the current situation with COVID-19, buyers are looking for alternatives to physical showrooms, according to Mora.

Stephen Popiel, vice president and managing director of Phoenix Marketing International and Automotive Canada, closed out the webinar by talking about the current state of vehicle telematics from a consumer marketing perspective, discussing strategies for how best to get customers on board with eventually making a switch to a fully-electric or autonomous vehicle.

Popiel pointed toward statistics that show that about a third of Canadians are still uncomfortable with the idea of owning a vehicle with self-driving capabilities and don’t see that changing for the next 15 years.

Additionally, general buyer interest is still pointing towards the traditional internal combustion engine as the preferred choice of drivetrain, with gas-electric hybrids ranking at a moderately distant second, according to Popiel’s figures.

However, Popiel noted that there are statistics to show that with the onset of new safety technologies in cars, like seatbelts and airbags, historically the rate of auto fatalities is shown to drop as well. 

Figures such as this, as well as addressing common consumer concerns like winter driving range, availability of charging stations and affordability are effective strategies for brands attempting to pivot towards involvement in the electric vehicle industry.

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