Cox Automotive Pres. Steve Rowley discusses his perspective on the future of auto retail

Cox Automotive has more than 40,000 auto dealer clients across five continents and is home to brands like Autotrader,, Dealertrack, Kelley Blue Book, Manheim, NextGear Capital, vAuto, and Xtime. On today’s show, we sit down with the new President of Cox Automotive, Steve Rowley, to discuss his first nine months as President and his perspective on trends across the retail automotive industry. 

Rowley has 33 years of experience in telecommunications throughout his career. He joined Cox Communications over 10 years ago and was named President of Cox Automotive in August of 2020. Rowley believes he has always seen things through the customer’s lens first and foremost. Innovation is what Cox does, while also focusing on driving new technology and growing revenue.

The first nine months on the job, Rowley says he was a little shocked coming in, but it’s been an awesome experience. Although it’s been tough with the pandemic, being able to meet colleagues, peers, and clients via technology has made the transition a lot smoother. He also says people in the auto industry are resilient. The way they are able to bounce back and innovate is amazing.

As far as digital retailing, Rowley believes there is a huge push for technology. While digitization is here to stay, technology is what people are accustomed to, and they want more of it. Rowley says never underestimate the experience you get at the car dealership; sometimes that personal touch is critical.

For the future of Cox Automotive, Rowley says they are focused on three areas: core, edge out, and the future. The core is the products and services they provide. Edge out is an area they are planning to add to the ecosystem of their services. The future is for mobility and mobile maintenance, so they are able to take their resources and push them out. He hopes Cox Automotive continues to advance mobile spaces, which gives them the growth trajectory they would like.

Rowley wraps up the conversation by discussing the concerns car dealers are experiencing within the industry. He doesn’t believe they are any insurmountable obstacles but focus and creativity will be. Dealers should focus on leading in digital retailing. They have to figure out ways to do more for the customer while continuing to bridge the gap of a personal touch within a touchless environment.

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