Covid19 – the impact on future mobility and brand messaging

Earlier this year, when I was still planning to attend the Geneva Motor Show (ahh, motor shows … remember those?), I was chatting to Finlay Kerr from Glasgow-based branding specialists Frejz. The conversation centred on branding within the global automotive sector in the context of threats posed to traditional automotive brands by new players and business models in the mobility sector. Then viral hell broke loose and we all retreated into the surreal world of lockdown. As we all started to poke our heads above the parapets once more, Finlay came back to me, curious as to my perspective on how all this might affect the automotive branding issues we had been discussing, and asked if I could formulate that in an article for the Frejz website, written for the Frejz audience of Scottish businesses active in the consumer-facing area of the mobility sector.

It’s an interesting topic indeed, and there are (unsurprisingly) a number of diametrically opposed opinions on it – just as there are about the virus. Given the magnitude of the global tremor caused by covid-19, there can be no doubt that the pre-virus trajectory of the mobility sector has been altered substantially. The degree to which that alteration will be corrected or amplified (depending on your point of view) will, however, be determined by the actions of multiple stakeholders.

This long read by Automotive News Europe offers some useful insight from analysts and industry experts on the financial, market and structural factors facing global manufacturers as they restart their factories under dramatically different circumstances. However, it broadly supposes that the way forward for the car/consumer relationship continues to be that of individual ownership. What I find more interesting is the brief nod made in the piece to ‘automakers’ slow-starting subscription models or long-term rental programs’.

This is a model I have long felt could and should be grasped far more dynamically by car makers as a way that embraces MaaS while protecting their brands. I’ll be writing more on that soon …

Photo credit: Volkswagen AG

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