CDK’s big bet: Digital transformation

CDK Global Inc. is in conversations with multiple automakers about how CDK could enable a “Tesla-like” buying experience that incorporates franchised dealerships, an executive said this month.

Joe Tautges, COO of the Hoffman Estates, Ill., dealership management system giant, declined to share specific details about the talks in an interview with Automotive News but said CDK is “in several discussions with various OEMs around how we enable that improved digital experience.”

CDK has spent more than $1 billion over the past few years to bolster its own digital capabilities and build a portfolio of products aimed at delivering an end-to-end digital sales experience that extends from lead generation through vehicle ownership.

Tesla sells its electric vehicles directly to consumers in the U.S. without franchised dealerships. But with the ongoing industry shifts toward electrification and digitization, Tautges said, dealerships will be a key part of transforming customers’ experience around buying and owning a car, including servicing of EVs. And as traditional automakers plan to introduce more electric models in coming years, they are taking an active role in how their brands are perceived and what their customers’ experiences are like, he said.

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