The digital transformation of the auto industry

By Exeter Finance

Image of a woman shopping for cars on a smart phone.

The automotive industry in the United States is currently undergoing a significant transformation in response to new technological advances that have fundamentally changed how vehicles are designed, manufactured, sold, and serviced; and in return, have created a so-called revolution within the auto industry and across auto dealerships. Let’s dig deeper and examine how customer behaviors are directly affecting the car-buying experience and shaping the future within the industry.

Revolutionizing the Industry

New car sales have exceeded $1.3 trillion in 2024, underlining a monumental shift towards sustainability and advanced technology. Electric vehicles, driven by the auto industry’s early adopters and pioneers themselves, are leading the way, appealing to environmentally conscious consumers that seek cutting-edge innovation. But the revolution doesn't stop there; the used car market, valued at $1.15 trillion in 2023, is undergoing its own revolutionary transformations. As the United States is being driven by economic uncertainties, consumers are flocking to affordable alternatives. The used car market is projected to reach $2.06 trillion by 2030, attributing its growth to online platforms that are simplifying the car buying process with convenience and transparency. In short, people are looking for an easy, seamless, and digital buying experience and dealers are recognizing the shift.

Embracing digital disruption

Digital platforms have reshaped the dealership’s car buying experience, empowering consumers like never before. 95% of used car searches now begin online. It’s no surprise then that the global online car buying market, currently valued at approximately $326 billion, is projected to more than double by 2032 to reach over $750 billion at a nearly 10% compound annual growth rate. By offering comprehensive listings, virtual showrooms, and digital financing options, the online car buying experience — and dealership’s adaptability — is closing the gap between online browsing and in-person visits.

Maximizing future opportunities

As we look ahead, the market not only promises further innovation and disruption — it demands it. With increased online research and transactions, more immersive experiences through virtual reality and augmented reality will allow customers to explore digital showrooms and customize options remotely. Also, subscription-based car services are growing in popularity with younger Gen Z consumers to offer flexible alternatives to traditional ownership models, creating new revenue streams and business opportunities. The time is now — brands are making a diligent effort to meet customers where they want to be met. Dealerships are planning for and providing flexible and seamless purchasing options for both remote and in-person settings.

Our commitment to your success

We're not just observers in this digital revolution; we're active players as lenders in the space. By optimizing our digital offerings and leveraging technology, we're also meeting our customers where they are by offering the tools to help dealers succeed and enhancing the customer experience overall.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your dealership's growth and success in the digital age. 

Sources: LeadSquared, Expert Market Research, Allied Market Research, Deloitte United States, FinMasters, IBISWorld, Mordor Intelligence, Maximize Market Research, McKinsey & Company

About Exeter
Exeter Finance LLC is a non-prime auto finance company headquartered in Irving, Texas. The company partners with franchised and independent auto dealers throughout the country to make car ownership a reality for consumers. For more information, call our Dealer Operations Group at 1-855-4EXETER (855-439-3837).

Category: Industry