Intelligent Mobility & Automotive Marketplaces

By: Sree Menon, GM of Parts & Accessories, eBay

Mobility as a platform, the impact of open source, and why marketplaces need to evolve in the connected car era.

Twenty years ago, eBay paved the way for online marketplaces. Through our technology platform, we made it seamless for people to connect in order to buy and sell things, regardless of geography.

Since then, we’ve seen “new” types of marketplaces emerge, thanks to mobile innovation. Consider what Uber and Airbnb have done in their respective markets – they’re both pioneers (and disruptors) who are leveraging mobile technology like never before.

Mobility as a platform

As semi-autonomous driving emerges, with an eventual shift to full autonomous driving vehicles on the horizon, today’s technology advancements and trends will open the door for the auto industry to a new set of opportunities.

Here are my bets on three areas we’ll need to continue to keep an eye on:

  • Car Sharing Marketplaces: As mentioned previously, this area is already taking off. However, what will be interesting to watch is the end consumer: what are their motivations and needs?, Will common interest groups want to co-own cars? Will we have credits for multi modal transportation just like data subscriptions today and will they be tradable? What types of personalization will these generations require in future mobility options?
  • OS Electric Vehicles: Given existing regulations, we’re continuing to make great strides in becoming a more socially conscious society. A world where an electric vehicle (EV) standard exists (with all necessary certifications) is not far away. It will be interesting to see how the automotive world begins to integrate open source technology, which will help accelerate the adoption of EV, enable innovation and ultimately make a huge impact in the automotive world. Just take a look at an OSVehicle, which is already delivering modular open source EV designs and modular open source hardware platforms for EV.
  • Aftermarket Products: For combustion engine cars, this is an existing multi-billion dollar industry. Car owners typically buy a new car every eleven years; therefore, there’s an  emergence and huge consumer appetite for aftermarket intelligent technology that can enhance the driving experience, whether it’s cameras, infotainment and driver behavior technology, sensors, or self-driving technology.

Open source as a business philosophy…beyond software

The OEMs have ruled for decades, but now is the era of tech companies. Open source software in the automotive industry is essential to unlocking the full potential of the technologies that exist.

The core tenet of open source is that everyone shares and expands a vision: everyone has the ability to make the process better, and by working together they create something better than they would working separately.

Marketplaces are built on these tenets. They provide a platform for players to compete on their differentiated proposition. Be it better services, value or personalization; the consumer needs choice and transparency. Today, we define open source largely as a software design principle, but it can also be applied to business philosophies, open markets, open source hardware technologies ... it’s all encompassing.

For automotive, combining open source as a design principle for software and hardware and extending it to marketplaces provides an open platform, arming the consumer with choice and convenience. The market dynamics will highlight and grow the best players in the field.

The role of eBay in this transformative phase

eBay’s founder, Pierre Omidyar, had a lofty mission to create a marketplace that could bring the power of financial markets to everyone and connect people through commerce.

Today, eBay is one of the largest and most trusted online marketplaces in the world. Since then, we’ve expanded into new verticals, including the automotive field, creating our eBay Motors destination in 2000. Not only is eBay Motors a unique vertical as it has a global buyer base that is shopping for both vehicles and parts and accessories, but we help empower consumers, small startups, and businesses, allowing them a level playing field and the opportunity to participate in global commerce. By empowering these sellers, we’ve been able to help reduce the dominance of the few players in this new world of commerce.

Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Sree Menon's LinkedIn page.  Her first post on the forces of change driving the automotive industry can be seen here.