New ways to buy cars

Buying a vehicle is probably the second biggest purchase we make in life but it’s not always a positive experience. After all, there is a lot of pressure to make the right choice. Now there are new ways to buy new cars which could streamline the experience. One is buying new vehicles in shopping centres, just like other consumer products, and another is buying via a car company website.

Cars in shopping centres

The idea of putting new cars in shopping centres is because people are already in shopping mode so the experience could be relaxing. It is also a way of bringing the cars to the buyers, rather than making the buyers go to a dealership.

There are already examples of vehicle brands going into Australian shopping centres.

Renault has what it calls a “brand concept store” at Westfield in Hornsby, where potential buyers can look at five different models and organise on-the-spot test drives.

There is also a Subaru Experience Centre at Pacific Werribee in Melbourne where customers can browse, test drive, organise finance and get trade-in quotes. Subaru plans up to six new shopping centre showrooms across Australia by the end of 2017.

In Sydney’s Martin Place a large 2-storey Tesla store, one of its largest, provides 500 sqm of floor space for passing workers in the CBD. It is similar in format to the highly successful Apple store.

This is not to say traditional dealerships are going to disappear. Some stores may open up temporarily in shopping centres while others become more permanent. There will also be a move towards buying vehicles online.

Buying cars online

Buying online may seem like an unusual way to buy a car, since there is no opportunity to touch, drive or even smell the vehicle.

Peugeot’s Order Online allows you to browse, configure and order a new car without going anywhere. Hyundai’s Click To Buy is similar – you buy the car online then make an appointment to take your old car to the dealer, sign legal documents and pick up the new car. Jaguar Land Rover and Smart have also set up online buying sites.

American customers will be able to buy online via Walmart while at home or work or in the store using kiosks. They will later collect from dealerships.

More change coming

Some dealers thought it would be too difficult to do the whole transaction online, including valuing trade-ins, sorting out financing and complying with red tape. But perhaps the real reason is the lack of face-to-face contact, where many salespeople can excel.

The CEO of Nissan recently said there would be “more change in the next 10 years than we’ve witnessed in the past 50”. Giving customers more ways to purchase a vehicle seems to be one change that is good for the customer.

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