It has been a challenging few years for the automotive industry, but harnessing the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI) could provide a much-needed boost.

A semiconductor shortage, strikes, and the aftermath of the pandemic have all pushed vehicle costs higher. As of October 2023, the average new vehicle costs $45,644, around $4,000 higher than before Covid-19 and the subsequent disruptions to the global supply chain, according to GlobalData analysis.

In the third quarter of 2023, GlobalData partnered with Uber for Business to survey dealerships across the US and examine how these disruptive factors were affecting business. The results were striking – 40% of those surveyed were selling fewer than 250 cars in the previous 12 months. While 95% of respondents sold below 750 cars over the same period.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of dealers surveyed had a customer satisfaction index (CSI) score above 90. Given that 90 or higher is a good CSI score, more work is required from the other third of dealerships who either scored below this target or did not provide one. With vehicle prices remaining high, it is more important than ever that dealerships provide quality services to customers, who are forced to pay more when purchasing a car.

However, some of these pain points can be eased with the use of AI. The survey found that just over half (54%) of dealers were already using some form of AI to assist their workflow. The technology has a wide range of applications that could be harnessed by dealerships to improve their service and optimise the customer experience. The GlobalData survey identified four key trends for the use of AI by automotive dealerships.

Supporting customer interaction

Whether online or through an app, AI chatbots can be available to answer customer queries and provide guidance 24/7. By automating this service aspect, other dealership staff can devote more time to addressing more complex customer queries and other essential tasks.

In the GlobalData survey, respondents reported using AI in other innovative ways, including helping schedule appointments, offering tailored recommendations to customers, and navigating offerings using AI-powered voice assistants.

Vehicle monitoring

AI software can be used to maintain and keep vehicle inventories up-to-date, as well as provide detailed information on individual cars. Respondents cited AI as a useful tool when searching vast inventories and ensuring that all vehicles are well-maintained, including through AI-powered reminders regarding maintenance schedules.

On the customer-facing side, AI can be used to schedule test drives more efficiently. Moreover, AI image tools can visualise car modifications and help customers better understand the processes they are paying for.

Helping the sales process

AI software could be the key to unlocking a dealership’s full sales potential. By personalising the buying experience, AI can treat customers as individuals and suggest the vehicles that are best placed to meet their needs.

Analytics from AI can also enhance a dealership’s sales drive by using predictive modelling to promote specific vehicles at certain times. When paired with AI software, dealerships’ websites or buying platforms can be optimised so that the most popular or trending models are promoted to specific customers first.

Supporting financial decision-making

The GlobalData survey found that supporting financial decision-making was currently the most widely adopted form of AI technology among US dealers. AI can be applied to datasets to create dynamic pricing models, offering unique offers and discounts to help maximize revenue in accordance with demand, availability, and market trends.

Respondents to the survey also cited trend forecasting as an important advantage of AI tools. The technology can provide insights and projection scenarios of the future market, enabling dealerships to plan accordingly and develop robust sales plans.

How Uber for Business can help

Alongside AI, Uber for Business can help dealerships provide a more streamlined customer experience. Using the unique Central dashboard, dealers can request rides for customers whose car is undergoing a service or who are in the process of exchanging for a new model, ensuring they get home or to the office with ease.

Uber for Business services can help boost all-important CSI scores and help customers to not get left behind during servicing delays. Through the Central dashboard, managers can monitor rides and manage data, tracking how rides are being used and how much they are costing. Moreover, an Uber ride is Pay-on-Demand and can help reduce the expense of loaner cars or shuttle services.

To learn more about how Uber for Business can help you, download the free report below.