GREENSBORO, N.C. — Volvo Financial Services is betting on artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles as customers increasingly opt out of vehicle ownership, President Scott Rafkin told Auto Finance News at a Demo Day that closed out the captive’s 10-week iLabX accelerator program.
“I could see absolute applicability for the artificial intelligence technologies that we took into the lab, both from service orientation towards our customers and dealers, and from an internal efficiency point of view,” he said. AI-based startups E-bot7 and Encompass-CX worked with VFS during the accelerator program, though Rafkin would not say whether the companies would continue their work with the captive.
VFS is most interested in investing or collaborating on autonomous electromobility and connectivity, Rafkin said, though none of the iLabX startups provided this type of technology. “[Autonomous] is where we can start facilitating and enabling changes in the customer business model,” he said. “Customer business models today are extremely focused on owning an asset and getting as much productivity out of that asset, but it’s a capital expenditure. With these technologies converging, the mindset is going more towards usage-based or subscription, where owning an asset isn’t really the end game.”
Conversely, blockchain is the technology that lacks “a clear path forward” in auto finance, Rafkin said. Still, “there is potential there, particularly within the payment space,” he added, noting that payment technology is a “critical topic for us.”