Currently reading: BMW predicts major change for car dealerships as we know them
BMW’s head of future retail forecasts a huge shift for BMW’s sales operations in the coming decade

The traditional car dealership model is set to dramatically change, according to BMW Group’s head of premium retail experience, Michele Fuhs.

Fuhs said, “nothing will happen in ten days, but I can’t tell you that automotive retail will look the same in 10-15 years.”

Read more: Audi dealers to sell cars using virtual reality technology

Fuhs made the comments at BMW’s future of retail symposium at its flagship Amsterdam dealer in the Netherlands. Speakers from other brands, as well as architects and designers, gathered to discuss the change in store for automotive retail, as the industry prepares for the shift to mobility schemes, increased urbanisation and growing product ranges.

BMW’s range is already too big for dealerships compared with a few years ago, when it primarily consisted of only the 3 Series, 5 Series and 7 Series, admitted Fuhs. The current BMW line-up has ten times as many models as only around a decade ago.

“We have to completely revolutionise our network; we can’t have 24,000 square feet in central Amsterdam,” said Fuhs.

Numerous ideas about future retail solutions were discussed and floated, including the possibility of boutique-style stores, more experience-based brand spaces, and both physical and digital presences. A virtual showroom, like the Rockar ones employed by Hyundai and Jaguar Land Rover, were conspicuous in their lack of discussion, however.

Read more: Up to 20% of new cars are pre-registered by dealers

Small changes to the dealer network of BMW will be made in the near future, instead of large-scale investment and dealer overhaul, Fuhs said. However, a more interactive experience of car retail is planned to be implemented by 2018, with a 'fully experiential retail experience' coming two years later.

Fuhs’s comments followed the announcement that BMW will launch a brand consultancy arm to advise other firms on their branding, and comes not long after Audi announced the profound change in store for the production line as we know it.  

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fatboyfat 26 November 2016

actually the Amazon comment is very relevant

People are changing their buying habits at an amazing rate, the 'as a service' industry is delivering solutions where the end user is removed from the product - they buy a service that does what they need, when they need it and pay appropriately, expand that out a few years and 'as a service' will be so prolific that it can't avoid impacting how we buy and drive. Roll on to the self driving years and even less interaction needed.
I would not be surprised if you surveyed the upcoming driving generation that they are a lot less bothered about cars, the feel of switchgear etc than older generations.
Rather than having a car in the showroom I would be happy with just the passenger compartment. If I wanted to take it further then a test drive, but my interaction with dealerships is very limited already these days. I am about 18 months from changing cars, but I already know the model, spec and colour of the model I will be replacing the current car with - all I will need is a test drive for confirmation then get a price. Total interaction, maybe 30 mins tops not inc the test drive. Everything else done on line in advance.

Not long till "Alexa, have a car here for 10:30 that I can use for 2 days"

catnip 26 November 2016

fatboyfat wrote:

fatboyfat wrote:

I would not be surprised if you surveyed the upcoming driving generation that they are a lot less bothered about cars, the feel of switchgear etc than older generations.

This is true, and manufacturers realise this. No doubt this is why there is such an emphasis on in car tech now, concentrating on aping tablets, mobile phones etc at the expense of ergonomics. They have to make cars interesting and appealing to the upcoming generations somehow.

Will86 26 November 2016

@Deputy and Catnip

Agree with both of you. The only dealer I've actually been impressed with is Cooper Mini in Chelmsford. The particular salesman knew his stuff inside out which was refreshing. Apart from that experience, I've known more about the car I'm buying than any dealer so I would happily buy online and skip the salesman providing I can physically experience the car. I'm not buying without a decent test drive.
catnip 25 November 2016

As long as I can actually

As long as I can actually touch, drive and poke around the exact model I'm wanting to buy, I can do without any other aspects of the "dealership experience". There are certain things I prefer not to buy online, for me a car is a very big purchase and one I would never make without experiencing it for real.