Sustainable future for automotive industry

At a time when the climate emergency continues to be a focus for many, the second annual Dealer Tech university competition by Keyloop provided hope for the automotive industry.

The competition included prizes for Christian Grinling from King’s College London and Tom Christensen from the University of Bath. Christian came up with an idea for an intuitive mobile phone app that could revolutionise the automotive after-sales market. Whereas, Christensen designed an innovative web-based platform that would enable consumers to easily compare electric vehicles based on their typical routine, to advise and simplify the purchasing process. 

Run by global automotive technology company Keyloop, the Dealer Tech competition tasks students across the UK, Ireland and Canada to develop an innovative tech-focused product idea that could make an impact on the automotive retail industry. This year, many had a sustainability angle and could help inject impetus into an industry that is responsible for around 15% of global carbon emissions*.

“The automotive industry is sometimes accused of not getting out of first gear. However, with over 1,000 entries from students teams, it proves that the entrepreneurial spirit of generation Z is alive and well. At Keyloop, we are always looking for the next innovative ideas and value the future generation of talent for our industry. As such, it was exciting to see such a diverse set of creative and innovative product ideas that could help revolutionise the industry for the better,” commented Glen Demetrioff, Chief Innovation Officer of Keyloop.

Having so many entrants with sustainability targets at their core was particularly pleasing to Demetrioff. “Last year’s COP26 summit was a wake-up call for many in the industry. The climate emergency continues to be, quite rightly, on everyone’s lips this year. My hope is that Christensen, Grinling and the other bright minds that entered the Dealer Tech competition will help inject a sustainability impetus within the industry."

Christensen’s web-based solution contains background data on electric vehicle models and analyses a consumer’s typical routine to identify and recommend their preferred vehicle option. The software also helps consumers visualise the various environmental benefits, by comparing electric vehicles against their petrol and diesel counterparts.

“I participated in the competition because I wanted to challenge myself and learn some new skills that I wouldn’t be taught on my course. I benefitted most from developing a product all the way from the ideation stage to the development stage and then through to the pitching stage, giving me a wide range of useful experience and skills to help me in my career,” said Christensen.

Grinling’s proposed easy-to-use app provides online service bookings, real-time tracking and push notifications. It brings together a number of disjointed current solutions into one simple unified platform. This not only has environmental benefits, but enables customers to search for and book a service online, whilst providing them with information on how much it will cost and how long it will take. The innovative app would make it easier for dealerships to secure new aftersales bookings and build consumer trust which could help to maximise the workshop efficiency.

Commenting on his win, Grinling said: “I have an immense passion for software engineering and developing mobile apps. The competition allowed me to take a new and innovative product for the car servicing industry from initial conception through programming, tackling both the technical and business aspect of its design.

"I wanted to get a feel of what taking a product from start to end in a real-life environment was like and how my idea could help benefit consumers. I gained invaluable experience from this competition and am very grateful to Keyloop for the opportunity."

Julia Muir, Founder of the Automotive 30% Club and CEO of Gaia Innovation, added: “It is fantastic that Keyloop is playing a key role in nurturing future talent through the various stages of this competition,  and is raising awareness amongst the top talent in the universities, that the automotive sector is an inclusive, innovative and exciting sector to join.”