9 sep 22

“AI is not a threat, but an opportunity”

For this year’s last Remarketing Expert Track, moderator Johan Verbois and his guests revisited AI – a topic discussed a year earlier, but one so important and fast-moving that an update was in order. Conclusion? "Next year, the use cases will have doubled, or tripled."

As always, the Remarketing Expert Track, which took place Thursday afternoon, was a compact deep-dive into a topic of paramount importance for the industry. If you want to attend the next one, you’ll have to wait until 2023. However, there is the Remarketing Forum in November to look forward to – but more on that in a minute. 

Vast concept

Artificial intelligence – AI for short – is on everyone’s lips. But do we know what we’re talking about? Hederik Laloo, founder and CEO of The Product Architects, gave an illuminating and helpful overview of the phenomenon, from its early definition by John McCarthy in 1955 to the latest developments today. Mr Laloo described the various types of AI, and the question of whether we need to fear it (in short: “Not yet”). 

Some key takeaways: AI is a vast concept, and it’s already in use all around us, from route calculations on Google Maps to the smart, automated analysis of MRI scans in hospitals. The most relevant forms of AI for the automotive industry and for remarketing in particular are machine learning and deep learning. 

“Incredible things”

“One of the limitations of AI is that it is only as smart as the information we feed it,” said Mr Laloo. “But if you do feed it enough info, it can do incredible things.” One example he gave was of an AI programme that finished Schubert’s famously unfinished 8th Symphony. In automotive, AI will help automate production, and driving itself. It will design and help “hyperpersonalise” cars. In terms of remarketing, it will help predict stock rotation of used vehicles. AI, in other words, “is not a threat, but an opportunity”.

Next up was Maarten Bekkers, founder and general manager of AutoChat, presenting just such an opportunity. His company aims to turn automated chat bots into vehicles of “conversational commerce”. Many of today’s digital assistants on online vehicle marketplaces are missed opportunities to weave together the customer experience into a single conversation. 

Gold standard

That’s what AutoChat does achieve, bringing together various strands of the business – from booking test drives and answering questions to concluding a sale. Mr Bekkers’ AutoChat could become the gold standard in optimised customer experience, he thinks: “It’s an easy way to add a webshop functionality to your website without having to invest in an actual webshop.” 

“Think of AI as your partner and your best friend: it monitors business for you, and it tells you when things are going right – and wrong”, said Brian Madsen, founder and CEO of Cars2Click International. AI helps his company match supply of used vehicles to demand to a degree that was simply impossible a few years ago, helping to shape a remarketing ecosystem that is able to rely more and more on presales: “We’re buying and selling cars that will be delivered 12 months down the line.”

“Putting AI first”

Just three and a half years since founding the company, business is booming – and soon to expand into the United States – and it’s all thanks to “always putting data and AI first”, Madsen says. 

After the coffee break, Javier Morillo and Marcela Ortiz from DAT Group shed a light on the many ways that AI can help make the de-fleeting journey more efficient. That greater efficiency is a powerful lever for even more positive results, they said: “AI can definitely help with defleeting, but following from that, it can then also be a powerful tool for remarketing or re-fleeting the vehicle.”

Expectation vs. reality

Concluding the Remarketing Expert Track was a panel discussion featuring Mr Morillo, Ms Ortiz, Marcel De Rycker (Head of European sales at Tevva Hydrogen Electric Trucks) and Léa Chevry (co-founder of Tchek). 

Reflecting on some of the polls launched during the event that showed a strong undercurrent of frustration with the pace of progress in AI, Ms Chévry said that “the expectation of what AI can do is very different from the reality”. 

“IBM’s definition of AI is ‘Assisted Intelligence’ and that actually describes better what it does,” Mr De Rycker weighed in. “Slowly but surely, AI will turn in to a tremendous tool.”

Embrace innovation

“We’re at the start of a revolution, but it won’t happen from one day to the next,” said Mr Morillo. “However, if we meet again in, say, a year, the number of use cases of AI in automotive will have doubled, or even tripled.”

So, concluded the panel, under the expert guidance of moderator Johan Verbois, the only way forward is to embrace innovation, and build alliances with people who will help you push it forward.

Remarketing Forum

Talking of which: the Remarketing Forum, which will take place on the first day of the Fleet Europe Summit on 16-17 November in Dublin, will feature a restyled accolade: the Remarketing Innovation Award; and an entirely new one: the Remarketing Hall of Fame Award.

The awards are sponsored by the European Car Remarketing Association (CARA) and by Cox Automotive. “The Remarketing Innovation Award is important to us, because we want to make sure the industry has the best and newest tools at its disposal”, said Johan Verbois, who is also a CARA board member. 

“Cox Automotive supports these awards because it’s an excellent way to get an understanding of the latest trends and innovations in the industry. And because we are a company with a strong people culture, we are very happy to support the Remarketing Hall of Fame Award, which will celebrate the people who help move the entire industry forward.”

For more information and to register for the Fleet Europe Remarketing Forum, click here. Both tickets for the Forum itself and combo tickets for the entire Fleet Europe Summit are available at an early bird rate until 30 September. 

Image: Fleet Europe

Authored by: Frank Jacobs