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IBM study finds consumers very interested in alternative ownership models for cars, self-enabling vehicles

Consumers expect to use cars differently—showing particular interest in self-enabling vehicles—though they don’t necessarily want to own one in the traditional sense, according to the results of IBM’s automotive consumer study, presented at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. This presents opportunities for automakers to apply analytics and cognitive capabilities to develop new vehicle options.

A New Relationship – People and Cars,” developed by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), reports that consumers also show a high level of interest in self-enabling vehicles, or cars that can learn, heal, drive and socialize. These capabilities include autonomous, self-driving cars, vehicles that can be fixed without human intervention and the implementation of cognitive computing to learn and assimilate to the driver’s behaviors, the vehicle itself and the surrounding environment.

For this second part of the “Automotive 2025” series (earlier post), IBM interviewed 16,469 consumers in 16 countries to determine how they expect to use vehicles in the next ten years. The first report featured the opinions of 175 global automotive industry executives, including OEMs and suppliers.

Alternative ownership. The personal car will continue to be a primary mode of transportation, as its convenience remains very attractive to consumers. However there is a shift underway in what it means to own a vehicle. Of those surveyed, 42% would consider alternative ownership modes such as subscription pricing, while another 24% of respondents were very interested in fractional ownership of vehicles.

Thirty-nine percent of consumers would consider a car-sharing model and 36% surveyed would choose the on-demand ride sharing option. Options for car sharing, on-demand ride sharing and peer-to-peer rental not only give consumers the convenience of using a car without owning, but also gives car owners the opportunity to receive a return on investment on their underutilized auto. To compensate for consumer shifts in vehicle usage, automakers will need to develop new ownership models that meet consumer expectations and create alternative revenue-streams.

While globally 67% surveyed agreed that it is still important to buy a vehicle in person from a dealership, original equipment manufactures (OEMs) and online brokers are empowering consumers to make smarter purchasing decisions. Forty-six percent of consumers said they would be very interested in purchasing online from an OEM and 38% would purchase online from third-party broker, if offered. To remain a trusted source in the retail chain, the study recommends automakers transform the buying experience with analytics and social media analysis to create more highly personalized interactions with potential customers.

Self-enabling vehicles. Consumers indicated that they were very interested in all aspects of self-enabling vehicles, but diagnostics and preventive capabilities rated highest (59%), with ten out of sixteen countries placing it as the highest priority. Through the continually expanding landscape of sensors and cognitive computing, manufacturers will be able to better understand the vehicle’s issues, develop technology and recommend solutions, often times, without the driver bringing the vehicle in for servicing.

Today’s vehicles have transformed from a mode of transportation into a mobile data center with onboard sensors and computers that capture volumes of information about the vehicle and its surroundings. Successful automakers will recognize the opportunity to accommodate for this disruption by offering the digital experiences and services that consumers desire.

—Alexander Scheidt, Global Automotive Industry Leader, IBM Global Business Services

Consumers expect to play an expanded role in design. The consumer study concludes that the next phase of the automotive industry will be a very inclusive relationship between automakers and their customers. Both automakers and consumers express a greater desire for early collaboration in the design of new products and services.

Survey respondents showed a high interest in crowd-sourcing ideas online and participating in design games and contests. Some 37% indicated they would be willing to have their driving and mobility data used to help in the design of new vehicles. By installing sensors and enabling cognitive computing, OEMs will be able to better understand consumer issues, make recommendations, and offer help without the driver bringing the car in for service.

The ease with which ideas can be generated and shared digitally and socially is compelling consumers to take on a greater role in shaping the vehicle of the future and creating a more personal and customized driving experience that is an extension of their digital lives. The automotive industry will benefit greatly from assessing the digital mobility interests of the different consumer groups it wants to target and then providing the right channels to engage.

—Alexander Scheidt



The car marketing paradigm of hubris and machismo sells cars is threatened and OEM's are mortified. Once the electric car has reasonable range its just an appliance about as interesting as a washing machine.

Most owned vehicles are on the road just a few hours a day at most. Car sharing would ultimately reduce annual sales posing a further threat to OEM sales efforts.

Dr. Strange Love

I don't want PP taxes, Licensing fees, Insurance, ... I don't want to drive. I want to sit in my closet, watch television, read, and play my guitar.

This scares all direct and indirect markets including the insurance industry, legal system.

Dr. Strange Love

Nordic. Since you mentioned washing machines, I would like to express my dissatisfaction with the government agencies and major appliance manufacturers for the apparent disregard of Cloths Dryer efficiency standards. It is about time that there should be a 7+ cubic ft. ventless Heat Pump cloths dryer that competes in the Market Today!!! I am disgusted that so much energy is spent building Useless APPs for Vehicles and we still don't have an efficient cloths drying solution other than the Sun and AirDrying.


@Dr SL:

Those hybrid ventless heatpump dryers have been around since 2014. Please check 7+ cu.ft. models from Whirlpool, LG, Miele, Bosch, Samsung to name a few.

Those dryers are more costly but about 50% more efficient than regular vented types. The technology could eventually be improved to 66%.

Dr. Strange Love

HD. I am aware of this. These models however have their shortcomings, of which, drying time is the biggest issue. This will get better. I believe standards should have been written and enforced years ago. The technology has been around a long time. It irks me that so little attention has been given to this problem over the past many years, and this is where we are. Dryers have to be in the top tier of wasteful energy devices.


Nordic. One problem is that all those few hours are the same ones. Electric cars, and self-driving cars will not solve the congestion problem. They can, however, solve the last mile problem for mass transit. Combine the two, and we could have a true transportation system, which would then, reduce the number of cars needed.


@Dr SL:

High efficiency (300%+) low noise water/air cooled heat pumps have been available for over 20 years but the majority of homes in USA and Canada still use inefficient noisy regular Air Cond and polluting NG furnaces.

Resistance to change is often the major road block.

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