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OEM Mobile Apps Are Here, But Dealerships Hold the Key

Portrait Of A Successful Businesswoman In A Taxi

One great consumer convenience is the OEM mobile application that allows consumers to manage their vehicles and accounts right from their smartphones. These apps are becoming standard operating procedure for most OEMs. On my Ford app, I can access important functions like locking and unlocking, locating my vehicle, remote starting, and real-time diagnostics. We’ve come a long way from needing to be in the driver’s seat to turn the ignition.

OEM Mobile Apps and Connected Vehicles

Nissan took it one step further. Nissan integrated their connected services into their app, so now NissanConnect Services allows users to access a multitude of features right from their smartphone. Some key features available for the subscription plan are remote engine start, locking and unlocking, remote light flash and horn feature, automatic collision notifications, Nissan door-to-door navigation, Nissan concierge, vehicle locater, valet service, and emergency roadside access. In addition, there is an array of parent-friendly safety features including speed alerts, curfew alerts, and boundary alerts designed to help keep a watchful eye on teen drivers. Most vehicles and trims in the line-up are compatible with these services, although not all. The subscriptions are broken into a Security Package and a Convenience Package. Both are currently priced at $80/year separately. If subscribed to both, the yearly total is only $129.90.

At the end of the day, it is about giving consumers choices on how they use their vehicles. No longer is it feasible to just sell automobiles and ignore that these mobility devices are designed for more than transportation. With the IoT, vehicles are connected to devices inside and outside, including other vehicles, roadways, buildings, phones, signs, watches, and more.

Apps and Autonomous Vehicles

Largely thought of as the creator of the best OEM app, Tesla is setting the bar on these applications for consumers. One unique feature happens with Tesla’s autopilot mode. If that mode is enabled, you can instruct your Tesla via the mobile app to pick you up. The function does not stop at the driving facilities, either – the Tesla mobile app also keeps your car’s entertainment portal in check.

Using the Tesla Mobile app, users can:

  • Track their Tesla via GPS
  • Lock and unlock the vehicle without access to a key
  • Upgrade the car’s software
  • Enable climate control inside the car
  • Enable valet mode to protect your identity

Despite the Potential, Adoption Rates Are Low

Adoption by consumers of OEM apps is still only at 40% according to JD Power. Early versions were clunky, leading many consumers to abandon the app after a single use. Unfortunately, this early disappointment has led to lingering low adoption rates. Thankfully, these apps are getting better and slowly becoming more popular as they are improved.

Despite the functionality of the apps improving, a pain point for consumers is the setup process. This difficulty makes it important for dealerships to assist their customers in using their new app to its fullest potential. We’ve seen that owners who receive education and assistance in setting up and using their apps are more likely to continue their use and enjoy the experience.

Dealerships Can Educate and Assist the Next Generation of Drivers

All of this is to signal that OEMs must prioritize the customer experience, and to do so, they must partner with their dealerships more closely than ever before. To keep a positive brand sentiment, OEMs need to address rapidly evolving customer expectations, such as encouraging dealers to harness customer lifetime value rather than prioritizing sales. Elevating every touchpoint across the entire end-to-end ownership period of the customer across all channels, both in-person and digital, is critical to success. This shift in the priorities of the OEMs will be historic for the industry, but it demonstrates the importance of customer preferences.

Perficient has customer experience experts and many industry solutions that help OEMs make a seamless transition toward lifetime consumer value. Contact us to tap into our automotive expertise.

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Keith Tomatore

A long-time senior executive in the auto industry who has held the position of SVP, Retail Marketing at Global Team Blue (GTB, a WPP Company) on the Ford Retail Business. In this role, Keith worked with the Ford Dealer Associations across the country to help them with their Precision Marketing and digital efforts. Also, he served as CEO of iFrog Marketing Solutions, which focused on Automotive advertising solutions for Tier 2 and Tier 3.

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