With new mobile app, customers get perks, Stellantis gets intel

Marketing

DETROIT — Stellantis is dishing out rewards to drivers through a smartphone app that also serves as an exploratory tool into new revenue streams.

The Stellantis Miles app is incentivizing travel of all kinds, whether driving, using ride-sharing services, biking or just taking a jog. The accrued miles can be redeemed at Stellantis dealerships for oil changes and other purchases or at more than 250 businesses including Amazon, Starbucks, Target and Walmart.

While the perks could be enticing for its brand customers, Stellantis is reaping benefits as well by developing a deeper relationship with them and learning more about them. This knowledge could prove useful as the automaker develops business models that go beyond selling vehicles, said Mamatha Chamarthi, head of software business and product management for Stellantis.

“There is a fundamental shift in the business model in the auto industry,” Chamarthi told Automotive News. “We don’t want to call ourselves auto anymore. We want to call ourselves mobility tech, right? And so there’s a fundamental shift from a one-time selling of the car through a dealership to a recurring revenue model.”

The concept came about last year after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles challenged employees to bring innovative ideas to the table for a “Pitch Night” competition styled after the TV show “Shark Tank.” “Pitch Night” has since been rebranded and expanded into a global contest called Star*Up after the January merger between FCA and PSA Group into Stellantis.

Ideas already are flowing from Star*Up. The company held Star*Up events in its six regions during the summer, and Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares picked the winner in October. The automaker hasn’t publicly announced what that concept is yet.

“Drawing inspiration from our employees’ innovation potential is so important because each one — coming from such diverse, rich experiences — look at the auto industry in a different way,” Chamarthi said. “Tapping into the potential will help us accelerate our transformation.”

Stellantis partnered with rewards app Miles for the program and launched a pilot late last year to see how it would resonate with users. Around 80 percent donated a portion of their miles to charities such as Toys for Tots and Habitat for Humanity.

The automaker also started an initiative that allowed users to commit miles toward wildfire relief. Within 24 hours, nearly 600 of them had donated miles to have 1,000 trees planted.

The dealership benefits were added to the program in October.

Stellantis says the app automatically logs each trip along with the mode of transportation while keeping personal data private.

People can track their miles earned per trip and receive personalized rewards or exclusive perks redeemable either online, at a nearby store or at a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat or Alfa Romeo dealership. The idea was inspired by loyalty plans outside the auto industry.

If all goes according to plan, the rewards program will drive more business to dealership service lanes. Oil change discounts would be a draw, but Chamarthi says customers also can redeem miles for accessories and merchandise from their favorite brands.

Stellantis will detail its software plans and how it intends to make money from new business models Dec. 7.

“We want to get into the microtransactions,” Chamarthi said. “The more we know about the lifestyle choices of our customers, the more personalized our software offerings are to those customers.”

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