Retail revolutionaries at the heart of Automotive Summit

12 March 2012 #SMMT News

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has today revealed speakers from major high street, online and automotive brands who will contribute to its retail-focused stream, supported by GForces Web Management, at the fourth International Automotive Summit, to be held at Clifford Chance, Canary Wharf, on 12 June.

Attracting senior executives from major automotive marques and dealer groups, ‘The Changing Face of Vehicle Retail’ stream will explore car buying trends, the franchised dealer’s relationship with traditional and digital consumers and the impact of emerging ultra-low carbon technologies on the car buying experience.

‘The Changing Face of Vehicle Retail’, supported by GForces Web Management will run throughout the day, structured into four key sessions:

  • The digital consumer – a panel of digital experts will share insights on engaging with a virtual audience and e-buyer behaviour.
  • The urban consumer in a low carbon world – low and ultra-low carbon technology has massive potential, but what is the key to mass market uptake?
  • Enhancing customer experience in the dealership – announcing and building on unique research results from the SMMT and RMI into perceptions of dealership service delivery.
  • Challenges of future retailing – panels representing major online, high street and automotive retailers discuss the way forward for franchised dealers.

Chaired by national broadcaster, Justin Webb, ‘The digital consumer’ panel of web experts includes automotive specialists from the world’s leading and fastest growing digital companies. Hugh Dickerson, Senior Industry Head Automotive, Google, and Laurie Kirschner, Head of Automotive, LinkedIn, will share their insights into the behaviour and brand relationships made by digital consumers, and divulge how UK franchised dealers can attract and keep this community of high-value, articulate influencers. Looking ahead to the session, Tim Smith, Commercial Director, GForces Web Management, said, “How consumers browse and buy cars has evolved. The rise of the internet and social media has driven over 90% of car buyers online to research their next purchase”.

UK automotive is already recognised as a global leader in low carbon innovation, investing heavily in R&D and testing. For the session ‘The urban consumer in a low carbon world,‘ the panel will look at ‘green’ technology and its wider adoption. Thierry Koskas, Global Head of Electric Vehicles at Renault, will describe the triggers that gave his company the confidence to opt for battery power as the technology of the future, while details of the latest in EV consumer trends will also be revealed. Bethan Carver, Manager B2C Product Development at EDF Energy will uncover the radical relationship change taking place between consumers and electricity.

The session ‘Enhancing customer experience in the dealership’, based on findings from recent SMMT and RMI co-commissioned research into consumer perceptions of the automotive aftermarket experience, will seek to address how the franchised dealer network can maintain lifetime relationships with motorists and the trigger points to developing long-term customer loyalty.

Concluding the stream on retail, a panel reflecting a diverse range of retail business models will examine the ‘Challenges of future retailing’ looking at how the physical showroom can remain a valid part of the future retail mix and discussing the future options for the franchised dealer. Part of the distinguished panel will be Douglas Rotberg, Managing Director of Tesco Cars, who will argue why franchised dealers should embrace new online retailers and Sales Director, Citroën UK, Charles Peugeot will share lessons on network re-branding and the challenge of selling products that are new to UK buyers. Chairing this session is Martin Leach, Chairman of respected automotive consultancy firm, Magma Group. Martin is a globally recognised automotive leader who is respected worldwide as one of industry’s leading product developers and brand strategists.

Along with keynote speeches from Ian Robertson, BMW Board Member, Global Sales and Marketing, and Peter Tyroller, Board of Management, Robert Bosch GmbH, experienced heads from the world of automotive will be seated on the panels for streams two and three covering ‘Innovation in ultra-low carbon technology’, supported by EDF Energy and ‘Growth in the supply chain’, supported by KPMG.

Delegate numbers are strictly limited, and tickets are available on a first come, first served basis priced at £250 + VAT for SMMT members and £400 + VAT for non-members. To book your place at the SMMT International Automotive Summit, please visit or call SMMT on 0808 178 8818.

To discuss advertising, exhibition and sponsorship opportunities, please contact 0808 178 8818 or

The event will run alongside the Canary Wharf Motorexpo, which runs from 11-17 June.

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