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How Custom Mobile App Development Disrupts the Automotive Industry

automotive custom mobile app development
08 March, 2023 5 min to read

Not that long ago, custom mobile app development was considered a means to optimize internal workflows within automotive companies. They embraced digital transformation to reach a new level of efficiency by ensuring faster communication between the source and supply chain, eliminating manual errors, automating workflows, and more. Also, their focus was totally on engineering capabilities, which resulted in reliable vehicles and great driving performance.

Undoubtedly, digital transformation with a focus on internal workflows was essential. Yet, these days, it's not enough. Times have changed. And modern problems require modern solutions.

What’s new is that customer expectations have expanded. That's what leading companies like IBM and McKinsey have admitted.

Buyers are now totally immersed in the digital realm. They find jobs online. Book restaurants online. Shop online. And they expect smooth digital experiences across different aspects of their lives, including purchasing, maintaining, and repairing a vehicle.

This idea is also supported by Google. According to its consumer insights, customers expect that the 100-old industry will revolutionize its buying experience. Buyers would like to have an opportunity to purchase vehicles in digital stores, including negotiations of the purchase, lease, or financial terms. This is proved by the upward online car shopping tendency. For instance, in 2018 only 1 out of 100 vehicles was purchased online. In a couple of years, the percentage of cars sold through digital channels increased by 10x. Meaning that in 2020, 1 out of 10 cars was sold through online platforms.

Here is more evidence about the emerging trend that involves the shift from retail to online in the automotive domain. In 2020, around 1,000 billion units were sold online. In 2025, that number is going to grow to 6,000 billion vehicles. At the same time, e-commerce car sales increased by 17.1$ in 2021, bringing in around $100 billion in total (new and aftermarket).

online car sales infographics statista

Source

Online presence for auto maintenance services is also essential because search is the first place people turn to when they need auto maintenance information quickly. That is why a car maintenance app is a tool that success-driven companies should not ignore.

Considering everything we mentioned above, the new battleground for tech-enabled companies should be about giving customers what they want. And, as numerous research materials say, they want a digital car shopping experience via their mobile phones, which can be unlikely delivered without custom mobile application development.

What Is Custom Automotive App Development?

When it comes to custom app building, it stands for unique digital tools designed to cope with the variety of challenges in the automotive industry. In contrast to off-the-rack applications, custom software is developed exclusively for a single company. Thus, it allows for gaining a competitive advantage in the market and provides exceptional functionality to meet the unique needs of the organization.

Apart from this, the custom-made application will consolidate all the tools the company will need to perform marketing and sales activities. With the best automotive apps, the customers feel that you hear them and care about their needs. Not only will they give your buyers a more convenient shopping experience, but will also help you implement a new business model that encourages recurring sales of services and products, not a one-off car purchase. It means that a custom application will let car owners purchase insurance, update their vehicles with extra power, buy digital services like AI or entertainment packages, book vehicle servicing, and more. Through custom software, your company will be able to run promotional campaigns making personalized offers your customers won't resist.

Types of Custom-Built Apps in The Automotive Sector

Auto apps may take different forms. You may get a car maintenance schedule app if you are into the vehicle maintenance business. In addition to it, you can build an automatic car diagnostic app or automotive scheduling app. For the car manufacturing business, a software development company will provide you with a platform for marketing all the car models to let customers shop online.

Moreover, automotive apps can differ depending on the platform. There are web, desktop, multi-channel, and custom mobile apps. Considering the focus on customer experience, automotive companies prefer mobile, web, and multi-platform apps. For instance, auto retail websites get their traffic from mobile phones. To be more specific, mobile traffic makes up 60.65%, so it's a core platform you should focus on.

Examples of Successful Adoption of Automotive Car Apps

Understanding what car buyers want and need is key to establishing meaningful communication that brings immediate and long-term benefits. That's what some of the automotive companies have already comprehended and made use of.

For example, Carvana, the fastest-growing online used car dealer in the United States, decided to create the vehicle buying experience customers enjoy and are eager to talk about. They strived to create excitement at every point the buyer interacts with their brand. So, they replaced a time-consuming dealership visit with a virtual experience. Their service relies on 360-degree photo technology that allows buyers to see every little detail of vehicles listed in their app. Then, they can buy the car and get it delivered to their home. So, Carvana did an amazing thing. It transformed a lengthy, painful process into one that happens from the comfort of home in minutes.

Tesla is another prominent example of a car dealer that gives its buyers a choice. They can either purchase a car in a showroom or via a website. The great thing is that customers can schedule a test drive, pick a car model, customize it, buy accessories, and get it delivered right to their homes.

Benefits of Custom App Development for Automotive

Develop a Customer-Centric Framework Built Around Buyers' Preferences

It's time to admit that the automotive market is transforming inevitably. Perspective vehicle buyers show a decreasing inclination to interact with car dealers face-to-face. This tendency is traced across all age groups and countries, covering even not digitally native customers.

Along with that, there is a growing interest in “at-home” and aftermarket services. Potential vehicle buyers lean towards getting a complete contactless purchasing experience. That is why they want to get the option of scheduling the car delivered right to their home avoiding a dealership visit for picking up the car.

A custom mobile application can become a sound response to buyers' shopping preferences. Software designed to meet the specific needs of your car dealership will help you deliver a smooth experience to everyone willing to purchase a vehicle or book a service online. So, customers are determined to interact with a smooth, superfast digital ecosystem that will entirely cover the full range of their vehicle-related needs. Which is achievable with a custom-made application.

Help Meet Customers' Expectations Toward Service Experience

Knowing your buyers' needs and preferences is half of success. So, it's interesting to know that buying experience is not as crucial as servicing the car.

mcKinsey automotive survey

Source

Those who already have a car, are looking for a digital way of scheduling maintenance services without awkward calls and long lists of expectations. That is why many manufacturers and vehicle maintenance service providers seriously consider offering automotive repair apps to their clients. These products significantly simplify the life of car owners, doing much more than arranging a servicing session with an engineer. Depending on the functionality the product owner adds, one can request picking up a car from the place of an accident for further repair, estimate the cost of the service, get a notification when the vehicle is ready for pick up, etc.

Support the Tendency of Connected Vehicles

The use of electronics in vehicles has seen a boom within a couple of years. As of 2021, there were around 237 million connected vehicles in operation in the world. By 2030, the number of new vehicles shipped with built-in connectivity will reach 96%.

Connected vehicles offer exciting new digital capabilities for their users. They change how people interact with their cars by connecting the car's system with external networks. Automotive mobile apps provided by the manufacturer will help set up communication between the driver and the vehicle. With an app, car owners will remotely monitor and control their cars.

Enable Flexible Ownership

Some people are not ready to invest in a four-wheeled friend or are willing to consider a short-term subscription model for leasing a vehicle or getting additional services. In particular, these are young drivers or urban dwellers who prefer to rent a car rather than get one. Automotive companies see great opportunities in satisfying this demand, making these services their main or additional source of income.

A custom mobile app will aid both service providers and customers. Companies will track the vehicle status, who owns it, what cars are available, collect subscription fees, and more. Users will easily book a particular service, compare subscription models, get in touch with a service provider, and do much more from their smartphones.

Pick Up the Emerging Mobility Services

Population growth, pollution issues, and the car component shortage push people to consider the limitations of vehicles available. Driven by these factors, consumer mobility behavior is changing and mobility usage is recovering. For instance, one out of ten cars sold in 2030 will potentially be a shared vehicle.

Nevertheless, customers do not want to give up access to vehicles, so automakers and dealers should think of digital offerings, like build a custom app, to satisfy the growing demand for mobility services. And this is quite an idea, considering that shared mobility brings recurring revenues and will soon become the second-largest source of income for dealers after one-time auto sales.

automotive revenue and mobility demand

Source

Urged by time, a new type of service has emerged - Mobility as a Service (MaaS). It is centered around customers and aims to provide a wide range of tailor-made mobility services on demand. Before MaaS appeared, people used to book and pay for various transport options (public transport, car share, e-scooter rental, etc.) separately. With a new era of MaaS, things have changed. Now a customer can do it from a single platform. Therefore, there is a growing need for digital solutions within the MaaS framework, both within the vehicle and outside it.

IBM notes in its executive summary that there is a growing necessity for personalization and digitalization within MaaS. Users expect customized media content, navigation, vehicle adjustment, dashboard notifications, etc. They also would like to see integrations with personal calendars and other apps for a better experience.

The increased customization can be achieved only with automotive mobile app development. Automakers and dealers can not only satisfy the customers' demand but also differentiate themselves from competitors with enabled personalized parameters.

Give Green Light to Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving and driverless vehicles, are expected to account for about 12 percent of car registrations by 2030. The technology standing behind these cars allows you to view the environment around the vehicle in a 360° range. Thanks to this and the fact that the vehicles are interconnected (and communicate with each other), the likelihood of accidents significantly decreases. Since these automobiles are autonomous and do not require any human intervention, they are going to facilitate commuting for disabled people or those with reduced mobility.

With the rise of self-driving vehicles, the demand for advanced driver-assistance systems will naturally increase. A custom app agency will provide manufacturers with a digital ecosystem that will enable smooth interaction of users with the car.

Cross-Platform App Development As the New Black

Along with native app automotive development when a code is written for every platform separately, there is a new approach that has recently emerged as a response to the urge to deliver the same functionality for software across different platforms. It is known as cross-platform app development.

Native development Cross-platform development
Cost More expensive. Usually more cost-effective than native development.
UI/UX Platform-specific UI/UX. A unified UI/UX for all platforms.
Performance Native. Native-like.
Code Platform-dependent. Reusable - works across different platforms.
Audience Targets users of a particular OS. Targets a broader audience - users of several OSs.

Within the framework of the cross-platform approach, developers create an app compatible with major operating systems like iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux, etc. How is that possible?

When engineers build native apps, they use different programming languages for a particular operating system. For example, they write code in Java and Kotlin for Android or Swift and Objective-C for iOS. The greatest advantage of cross-platform development is that coders use a single code for apps that will run on different platforms. So, whether users have a Samsung cell phone or iPhone, they will use the same app despite different operating systems.

Top Cross-Platform Technologies

The growing popularity of cross-platform development gave birth to numerous tools and frameworks. They are widely used by developers to accelerate the development process of automotive apps for Android and iOS. Here are the frameworks dominating the market today:

  • Flutter - helps developers create a seamless user experience for mobile and web users, no matter the platform. It has a wide collection of customizable widgets for flexible UIs, hot reload for quick updates, and offers a single Dart codebase for building apps for any screen.
  • Ionic - holds a single codebase and an open-source mobile UI toolkit for building high-quality cross-platform mobile apps. With Ionic Studio, software engineers can easily prototype and create apps with minimal coding.
  • React Native - is an ​​open-source UI software framework by Meta Platforms, formerly Facebook. It has a powerful app debugger Flipper and is compatible with 3rd-party plugins for assembling a good development environment.

Benefits of Cross-Platform App Development for Automotive Business

Some say that a cross-platform approach cuts the app's flexibility and may lead to minor UI inconsistencies across platforms. Even though this may happen from time to time, these insignificant flaws are nothing compared to the merits this technology delivers to businesses.

Time- and Cost-Effectiveness

Cross-platform custom mobile app design and development helps keep the app price down and cut development time in many ways.

First, it doesn't require a separate tech stack for every operating system, which leads to resource savings. Second, a universal code makes it possible to deploy an application across multiple platforms. Third, you will need one developer or a team of developers who will write a universal code for different OS. Finally, you will save on the uniform design that will be applied for both Android and iOS.

Outreach to a Wider Audience

When you develop an automotive dealer app, splitting potential car owners, existing drivers, or MaaS customers into categories depending on the devices they use can be daunting and irrelevant. With cross-platform software, you target users with different operating systems with a single solution.

Faster Time to Market

Sometimes the automotive industry requires immediate response to emerging trends or customers' demands. At least, if you want to stay on top of the game. Cross-platform app development is a perfect approach for cases when you have to be up and running with an application as soon as possible. Popular frameworks ensure that software engineers code less and promptly release a fully operating, feature-rich, and customizable application that shares the same functionality and custom app design on all operating systems.

Easier Updates

It's so much easier to submit updates to cross-platform software compared to native apps. First, because you are doing this from a single codebase. And it means that the update or bug fixes you log in will apply to all the integrated operating systems simultaneously. Second, most frameworks have powerful debugging or reload tools, which let you change the code and see changes almost instantly.

What's the Custom Mobile Apps Development Cost?

As business owners decide to bring mobile apps to their companies to improve customer experience, the natural question arises - how much will it cost? While there is no canned answer to this inquiry, we will provide you with a rough estimation of the app cost and break down the factors that impact it.

What Affects Custom Mobile App Development Pricing?

It's just an app, what can make the mobile software price change? Hah, pretty much a lot of stuff. Starting from a development process, application type and its complexity to the assembled team and reusability of components.

  • Custom mobile development process - usually, the app development process involves discovery, prototyping, development, quality assurance, and deployment. Extra stages or the lack of those will increase or lower the cost.
  • Application type - native or cross-platform app, there is a difference. Cross-platform software tends to be on the budget-friendly side offering a unified solution for users of different OS.
  • Complexity - how many screen pages are there? Do you want to incorporate IoT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and other technology? That will add extra dollars to the final price.
  • Development team - do you hire a dedicated team or consider outstaffing? Where does the team locate? How many experts do you want to work on your project? These factors will impact the software cost as well.
  • Hidden fees - Will you need equipment to arrange a server room? Or do you consider cloud-based development and have to know the fees you've got to pay for using the provider's resources? That's what you should keep in mind too.

Considering the Complexity of Custom Mobile Application Design & Development

It's not rocket science. The more complicated your app is going to be, the more expensive it will end up being. Such things as third-party integrations, artificial intelligence, GPS, or a price calculator for an automotive invoice app will take time to be implemented, which will respectfully result in a higher app price.

Complexity Time Functionality Cost
Simple 2-4 months MVP, basic UI, one platform $40,000 - $100,000
Medium 4-9 months More sophisticated features, custom UI, one platform $100,000 - $200,000
Complex 9+ months Advanced features, custom UI, more than one platform $200,000 - $300,000

Focusing on the Platform

Are you considering native Android automotive app development or would like to get a solution that will smoothly run on multiple operating systems?

Then, it would be good to know that an hourly rate for an iOS developer will range between $50 and $85, depending on their experience. Multiply the hourly rate by the number of hours required to deliver an application, and you will get a cost.

Android developers have relatively similar hourly rates. They charge from $70 to $100 per hour. Also, note that Android apps take more time to develop. So, contrary to popular belief, iOS apps are less expensive and can be created faster.

Those coders who have mastered the skill of cross-platform development will request $75 - $120 per hour. You save a lot of money with this approach as you will be targeting Android and iOS audiences with one digital product.

Android iOS Cross-platform
Hourly rate, USA $70 - $100 $50 - $85 $75 - $120
Hourly rate, Central Europe $20 - $80 $15 - $70 $20 - $90
Hourly rate, South America $18 - $30 $18 - $30 $20 - $40

Counting People on the Board

Every person engaged in the project counts. So, if you wonder about the cost of automotive learning apps depending on experts who help bring your idea to life, here is a quick overview of how much a particular team member may charge. Information obtained from Zippia.

Role Average hourly rate, USA Average hourly rate,

Central Europe

Business Analyst $40.73 $33.53
Project Manager $35.78 $29.56
Junior Developer $36.06 $27.04
Middle Developer $40.98 $32.48
Senior Developer $46.23 $40.33
Lead Developer $55.93 $47.78
Junior QA $30.13 $28.65
Middle QA $35.04 $31.23
Senior QA #39.43 $36.89
Designer $23.77 $18.76

Bringing It All Together

As you see, there are plenty of variables that define how much an automotive maintenance app will cost. Yet, we want to give you more clarity and sum things up. If you are still uncertain or would like to get a more precise estimation, you are welcome to reach out to our managers. As you share the project details, we will provide you with a quote. This way, you will have an approximate price tag for the mobile application for your automotive company.

Conclusion

Things in the automotive landscape change, blowing down already-established approaches and calling for new ways of running a business and, especially, treating customers.

While such industries as e-commerce have already succeeded in adopting a customer-centric approach, the automotive industry is yet to see this major mindset transformation. So, if you want to become one of the forward-looking companies that care about its customers and satisfy their needs, welcome to the club of those organizations that treasure mobile app custom development.

Potential car buyers, drivers, or just those who would like to benefit from short-term mobility crave mobile apps that significantly simplify interaction with a service provider or a dealer. So, give your prospects what they want, and they will lead your company to unseen levels of profitability and success. And if you need a reliable tech partner by your side, the Ergonized team is here to throw all our efforts into building a solution your customers will love.

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