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Guest opinion: Is the US finally catching up with the UK’s digital automotive industry?

Servicing kiosk in the US

Car servicing has been revolutionised in the states with the help of a smart self-service kiosk.

The new piece of tech been deployed outside of a Ford dealership in Michigan and offers motorists the chance to drop off their keys, select a service on screen and walk off while the garage does the work.

After a certain amount of time the car owner will return, retrieve their keys and drive off again.

The partnership between Ford and Panasonic has been seen as a move to digitalise the industry but just how smart is the smart kiosk and how much do Americans really want it?

Being a Ford dealership, motorists will still be obligated to pay the higher fees that come hand in hand with having a service with a main dealer.

Other than being a more expensive option, the automated service which has been designed to ‘reduce the hassle of car servicing’ still requires the motorist to drive to the garage and find an alternative way home after being left without their vehicle. The driver then also has to find a way of returning to the dealership to collect the vehicle once it’s ready.

This new technology comes at the same time as research is released by Servicing Stop which shows that the UK is leading the automotive industry online with Americans far more reluctant to go digital.

The UK’s largest online car servicing provider has found that more than half of British motorists will use a phone to organise their car service (60%) while Americans are twice as likely to stick with tradition and drive into a garage to book.

Less than a quarter of Brits choose to drive into a garage themselves (23%) and are overall 22% more likely than Americans to book in through a website with only 9% of motorists across the Atlantic opting to book online.

Ford and Panasonic are nearing the end of their 90-day trial of the new smart service kiosk at LaFontaine Ford in Birch Run, Michigan which was deployed in January.

The two companies will assess the results of the test before figuring out where to go next, whether that be an additional round of testing, or a nationwide deployment.

The UK has been leading the automotive industry online for years now and it’s refreshing to see the States are finally catching up, but this really doesn’t seem to offer much help.

It seems the only changes are being able to rid yourself of your vehicle at any hour while taking away communication with the mechanic. P

Perhaps Servicing Stop needs to cross the border and help motorists across the Atlantic with a convenient, affordable and trustworthy car service that isn’t going to leave them out of pocket or out of the comfort of their homes. But, then again, it doesn’t seem American’s are all that willing to go digital afterall.


Author: Oly Richmond, chief executive and founder of Servicing Stop

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