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Car Buyers Go Back To Dealerships Like They Always Have

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No Matter What They Say, Americans Return to Car Dealer Showrooms, Thwarting Expected Shift Online

In the middle of California's lockdown, Mike Sullivan sold 160 cars in a week by delivering online orders to customers' doorsteps, reports Bloomberg. Even though that total meant sales plummeted about 75% at his 12 dealerships in the Los Angeles area, Sullivan had reasons to be encouraged. He hustled to set up e-commerce after the state ordered the closure of many retailers, including car lots, and customers liked the new model.

But since California loosened its coronavirus restrictions in May, shoppers have come back to Sullivan's showrooms. Not even recent protests over police brutality and looting, which hit three of his stores, kept them away.

"The people that did it (online buying) say they thoroughly enjoyed it, but right after that they went to the old way of doing business," Sullivan said. "We're gonna continue, and I want to do it, but after the last week of April the story got watered down."

Sullivan's experience raises the question: Do Americans really hate car dealerships as much as they say they do? Read more here


Automakers in Lockdown Test Drive the Modern Car-Buying Experience

Infiniti, a luxury-car division of Nissan Motor Co., prides itself on its showrooms.

The pandemic has spurred Infiniti and a number of other car makers to speed up digital initiatives that were already in the works, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Some car makers had held new technologies in beta status, or introduced them in select markets, because they believed most people weren't ready to consider buying a car without a visit to a showroom.

That doesn't mean the showroom will die out altogether. Mercedes-Benz AG in Germany found 80% of customers still want to receive personal advice and take test drives, a company spokeswoman said. Mercedes-Benz USA is already questioning how its dealerships will look postpandemic, said Robert Moran, the company's director of communications.

"For example, do they need big retail spaces?" he said. "Do vehicle showrooms and service facilities have to be shared in the same location?

We are looking at many areas which invite the natural questions of what to keep, what to cut, and what to amplify." Read more here.