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The Future of Automobiles is Now at #CES

Each year at CES, a multitude of products are showcased — from innovations in mobile and entertainment systems to wearables and connected home devices. Today, we’re focusing on automobiles.

From Audi’s self-driving A7 (making the trek from San Francisco to Las Vegas)to BMW’s i3 self-parking car, there has undoubtedly been a lot of innovation in the automobiles market over the past few years. Some of these, like Audi’s, may help save lives in the future by reducing the likelihood of accidents on the road. Others like BMW’s smartwatch-operated Remove Valet Parking Assistant will, plain and simple, make the lives of the consumer a little bit easier. However, one aspect of automobiles failing to see innovation today is connectivity.

The 2014 MRY Auto study revealed that the majority of Millennial consumers interested in connectivity to date have been disappointed with the level of automobile connectivity. Although connectivity today remains a perk of the overall automobile experience, it is likely to become a growing driver in consideration over the next few years.

Herein lies a major opportunity for automakers. Connectivity is a fairly new space, one yet to be dominated by any one auto brand. According to the same MRY study, Dodge is perceived as the most connected car by consumers on social media, albeit conversation largely driven by negative experiences. Additionally, less than half of surveyed participants in the study agree that automakers understand people like them. In fact, Millennials perceive Amazon and Apple as more innovative than every auto brand surveyed (including Ford, Honda, Toyota, and BMW).

For marketers, there is an opportunity to become part of the connectivity conversation. According to the study, there was a 15% increase in online conversation about connected cars between 2012 and 2013. Beyond that, consideration conversation on connectivity has increased by 359% YOY. Tomorrow’s automotive brands will need to focus more of their brand messaging around connectivity features if they want to achieve Millennial preference.

With the shift of access to ownership, it will be important for not just automakers, but car sharing services like Uber and Lyft, to also pay attention to the increasing demand for connectivity. Although a growing household name in many large cities, interest and usage of car sharing services has yet to reach critical mass, the MRY Auto study reveals.

The Uber-Spotify partnership is just one example of how consumer technology can be better integrated into the car sharing experience. And innovations like Parrot’s RNB6 are helping bridge the auto tech gap. However, built-in GPS and Bluetooth-enablement will soon not be enough.