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The relationship between dealers and automakers has often been fraught with friction, with automakers essentially occupying the driver’s seat.

But, according to an Automotive News report, a true partnership might emerge in a not-too-distant future shaped by the disruptive forces of technology and growing competition.

A report commissioned by the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association offers a picture of what automotive retailing could look like by 2030.

The study, titled “Driving the Road Ahead,” says key trends — such as the emergence of electric vehicles, virtual car shopping and financing, and the rise of ride-hailing and other alternatives to individual car ownership — will accelerate.

Automakers, meanwhile, will be “in for the fight of their lives.” They will be more preoccupied than ever with the capital-intensive demands of stringent fuel economy standards; electric, connected and self-driving technologies; as well as China’s and India’s entry into the North American new-vehicle market.

This creates an opportunity for dealers to come up with new ways to do what they do best: sell vehicles and services to customers.

“A fully engaged dealer network can ensure that some of the responsive pressure experienced by brands might be shared,” the report says, “allowing brands to focus on what they are good at … designing and assembling great vehicles and building strong brands.

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