E-mobility is still a major topic in the automotive industry. Various governments are promoting the use of e-vehicles, many new service concepts are being launched and the number of end-users is rising, albeit with great differences on an international level. Of course, in addition to logistical and economic influences, this also has consequences for dealer network planning, for example:
4 recommendations for dealer network planners
In contrast to other megatrends, the expansion of e-network structures is already well-advanced. Acceptance and technical obstacles hardly pose a problem here and the use of electric vehicles is steadily increasing. An inadequate charging infrastructure has long been regarded as a major obstacle to the expansion of e-mobility. However, there are now significantly more charging stations available to e-vehicle owners in Europe. The organisation Transport & Environment estimates that around 220,000 charging stations will be available in Europe by 2020; these are good figures.
Many people therefore believe that manufacturers are now responsible for providing enough vehicles and equipping their networks with the necessary structure. Despite a growing customer base however, the service potential is still low at present. How should you plan your own dealer network if you have to invest heavily in special tools and training in your after-sales business, while at the same time your earnings are comparatively low?
Set the right priorities
The implementation of e-mobility in one's own network is highly topical. But where to start? Create incentives to buy? Expand the after-sales business or restructure the service immediately? Ask yourself the question: what is particularly important to me and what can wait? This allows you to define the key figures for the target network that must be achieved first. Don't forget your own brand! The requirements must match the sales channels and formats of your brand. Depending on the geographical category (e.g. the degree of urbanisation), it may be useful to develop different greenfield networks for sales and service.
Ensure the required coverage
Are you in the right spot with a suitably-equipped location? Consider the demand for network coverage and provide offers especially in places where e-mobility is growing faster. Take a look at the region and the details because e-mobility develops at different speeds and a precise picture of your current network is the best basis for the next steps. For example, data on population structure and socio-economics can usefully supplement the analysis. Criteria such as age structure and income classes are good indicators of the attractiveness of a location. Has all the necessary data been collected? Then you can calculate your theoretical ideal network as a starting point for an action plan.
Find interim solutions for the transition period
E-mobility is omnipresent in the context of the energy revolution. Many countries now subsidise electric vehicles and have fixed timetables for the desired number of registrations in this market. But although more e-vehicles are sold every year, their market shares and growth rates are still quite low. It is therefore essential that you include transitional solutions in your network in order to remain able to act. This could mean, for example, transporting vehicles for servicing to larger workshops if the network is not yet comprehensive.
Develop an action plan
Now it's time to focus on the individual locations of your future network: define a target network that is as realistic as possible and decide on all measures relevant to the network. Do locations need to be expanded or downsized? Do you perhaps even have to close down locations completely or open new ones? Does a relocation make sense? Once you have recorded the scope of the measures, you can draw up a concrete action plan with a time schedule.
Even though the e-vehicle market is supported by national governments, particularly in Asian countries, and there is less resistance to these technologies, development is progressing slowly, especially in Europe. In Germany, for example, annual growth of around 1-2% of the total market is currently expected. It is already foreseeable today that the German government's 2020 target will not be met.
This does not mean, however, that the issue of e-mobility in network planning can be put off for a long time. Particularly in relation to the energy revolution and new digitalisation concepts, politicians around the world are so interested in e-mobility that they are working towards networked, energy-saving mobility. Current developments in the service sector, e.g. car sharing, also offer a further opportunity to promote the expansion of e-infrastructures through the use of electric vehicles. So one thing is certain: e-mobility will not come, it is already here!
Therefore, adapt your network to this constant development and recognise the opportunities. Both can be read off from many factors and data. The trick is to select the right data and framework conditions specifically for your own project.