Auto Legislation

Digital Vehicle Legislation and Dealerships: Is the Rise of One the Fall of the Other?

Jan 29, 2019

the cockpit in a digital vehicle

The digital vehicle is here. Granted. And it’s more than self-driving cars, cool heads-up displays and in-vehicle experiences that are getting more and more immersive and elaborate. It includes the new digital license plate approved for testing in California, subscription services, car sharing through smartphone apps, in-app motor vehicle purchase, and even electric vehicles. The more technology and innovation get in on the driving experience, the more legislators all over the world need to figure what kind of law they’ll need to regulate it. So what do all of these new automotive industry bells and whistles mean for car dealers and lawmakers? Digital vehicle legislation and dealerships need each other, or one may be putting the other at risk.

First things first, the digital vehicle…

Hollywood imagines the digital vehicle

KITT from Knight Rider, International Comic-Con in San Diego, Image from InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, via Wikimedia Commons

What is it really? Or, actually, what makes it a digital vehicle? Simple. It’s all of those now standard computerized enhancements that enable motor vehicle technology to use algorithms and artificial intelligence to gather data so motor vehicles can “think” for themselves and “communicate” with other automobiles. Today’s cars and trucks incorporate varying levels of technology because modernizing and redefining car ownership is necessary to appeal to the younger consumers needed to sustain the auto industry. With this innovation come unique legislative questions around two of the strongest representations of the digital vehicle experience: self-driving cars and subscription services.

How digital vehicle legislation and dealerships are changing driving

Whether you’re for or against them, self-driving cars and subscription services are here to stay. The automotive industry needs new, younger consumers to boost flagging sales in that sector but they have a different view of driving and are no longer racing to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Self-driving vehicles and subscription services hold an appeal and that means digital vehicle legislation is needed to regulate both, with each representing two different points of view for dealers.

Dealerships and autonomous cars: a match made in technology

the self-driving digital vehicle

Hyundai Ioniq Autonomous concept car exhibited at the 2017 Washington Auto Show, DC, USA. Photo by Mariordo, from Wikimedia Commons

While various countries around the world and some states in America have regulations for operating autonomous vehicles on roads and highways, getting universal agreement on how to move forward has been difficult. Where does this leave dealers who are hoping to bring self-driving cars to their consumers? This is where the digital vehicle legislation and dealerships relationship is solid. Dealers are eager to make autonomous vehicle ownership a reality, as are many lawmakers. They see this as a way to grow the business and save lives, and once there is a path to how law enforcement can police self-driving cars and guidelines on where and how they can be operated, this technology will become a broad reality.

Subscription services and the new vehicle age

Porsche enters subscription services and the digital vehicle world

Subscription services, on the other hand, bring up the question of whether they make the dealership obsolete. After all, if you’re using a subscription service, can’t you just circumvent the dealers and go straight to the automaker? (Per House Bill 1195 in Indiana, the answer to that is “Nope.”) Yes, driving is still the dealer’s bread and butter but not driving several different cars throughout the year. How would you designate that car once it’s returned and what could you use it for? Does it become a rental? That along with how to regulate or even whether to allow the service in some areas has both dealers and legislators scrambling.

Just the beginning

automatic shift in the new digital vehicle world

As automotive technology moves forward so will any law regulating the industry itself. Dealers and legislators are keeping an eye on all of this, on a global scale. What it means for both is yet to be seen.

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