Welcome to this episode of The Friday 5 with Steve Greenfield, Founder and CEO of Automotive Ventures, an auto technology advisory firm that helps entrepreneurs raise money and maximize the value of their companies.
I was out in Las Vegas twice this week, first for the DrivingSales Conference, followed by the Digital Dealer Conference. It was great seeing such strong attendance of both dealers and vendors at both physical conferences after two years of virtual events due to COVID.
I had a chance to catch up with a number of dealers out there, and I wanted to recap the themes that seem to be top of mind at the moment.
First, there seems to be a growing interest in software solutions in the fixed operations area. Employees are harder than ever to hire and retain, so automation tools powered by AI seem to be emerging to help dealers do more with fewer employees. Which I believe is going to be increasingly important as the employee shortage persists and as we get back to an environment where new car inventory starts to build.
Next, it seems like dealers continue to explore how to best improve the consumer experience to meet customer needs as a point of potential differentiation versus their competitors as a point of potential differentiation, versus their competitors.
Perhaps the most important issue overhanging the current mood is the more frequent references to the “agency model” for franchised dealers coupled with many OEMs signaling their interest in selling new EV models directly to consumers.
In terms of the agency model, there are more questions than answers available at this point, but many are watching to see how the Ford dealers self-select into ICE-only or EV retailers by the end of this month.
Finally, the general sense of optimism was palpable. I would chalk this up to attendees being excited to finally get back to the physical conference format after a few years of being cooped up at home, only attending virtual meetings, as well as dealers feeling a general sense of optimism given they’re coming off a few years of record profitability.
All in all, a great week of conferences in Las Vegas, and I expect we’ll build to very strong attendance at the NADA Show in January. From my perspective, this will be a very important NADA Show to attend, given all of the changes going on across the automotive retail channel.
Companies to Watch
Every week we highlight interesting companies in the automotive technology space to keep an eye on. If you read my monthly industry Intel Report, I showcase a few companies each month, and we take the opportunity here on the Friday Five to share some of those companies each week with you.
Today, we have two companies to watch: Auto Labs and Phantasma Labs.
Auto labs is an AI-powered customer experience platform built for fixed operations.
Their sophí product is an ai-powered virtual assistant that helps sales staff close more deals, assists service staff to maximize shop capacity, and allows managers to discover valuable customer insights.
The reason that I love auto labs is that they bring automation to fixed operations to help dealers provide the consumer with a superior customer experience while simultaneously making their employees dramatically more efficient and productive.
A true win-win.
You can check out Auto Labs at www.AutoLabs.io.
Phantasma Labs provides virtual testing at scale for autonomous vehicles. They test for safety running scenarios against a verification plan.
Phantasma Labs’ versatile and comprehensive simulations are easy to evaluate and monitor. Their scenarios, behavioral models, and insights can be integrated straight into simulation and verification tools.
The reason that I love labs is that as vehicles have more ADAS features and systems, these vehicles have to log millions of miles to properly test and debug their functionality. Phantasma Labs helps make the testing of these ADAS features – through simulation and modeling – much more cost-effective and efficient.
You can check out phantasma labs at www.Phantasma.Global.
So that’s your weekly Friday 5, a quick wrap-up of the big deals in the automotive technology space over the past week.
If you’re an early-stage automotive technology entrepreneur looking to raise money, or an entrepreneur who is trying to decide whether and when they should raise money or sell their business, I’d love to speak with you.
Thank you for tuning into CBT News for this week’s Friday Five, and we’ll see you next week!
Did you enjoy this week’s episode of the Friday 5? Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic by connecting with us at email@example.com.