COLOGNE: Connected cars are set to transform the automotive industry and the relationships carmakers – and other brands – have with consumers, according to a BMW executive.

Dieter May, BMW’s senior vice-president/digital products and services, discussed this topic at dmexco, where he argued that the car is moving beyond both the functional purpose of moving people from A to B and the emotional purpose of projecting a driver’s personality.

As the car becomes ever more integrated into people’s digital lives, “so the car becomes one important digital touch point where you spend a lot of time”, he said. (For more, read WARC’s report: Cars as marketing channels? How BMW is using digital to differentiate in the auto category.)

By linking the car to data held in the cloud, and using data generated and transmitted by the car, the driving experience can be personalised to a degree never seen before.

It also means that the car is shifting from simply being a ‘product experience’ to a ‘product and service experience’, since digital service updates can take place regularly in the same way that mobile phone users download software updates.

“This gives us really moments of truth where we can outperform and get in touch with our customers and develop a totally different relationship than we have today,” May said.

“Instead of going back to them and saying ‘we have a new thing you can buy if you want’, several times a year we can go back and say ‘hey, we're giving you something new that you didn't know about’.”

The volume of data generated by both cars and drivers in this scenario opens up the possibility of the vehicle itself becoming a new marketing channel through which relevant services can be delivered to drivers.

But May was clear that BMW would not be selling consumer data in the manner of traditional internet businesses, although he is open to working with selected partners on tailored messages.

“We need to be really careful but I think there are real partnership opportunities with big brands which fit (with the) premium brand we have, to really drive business forward.”

Data sourced from WARC