Why bother to drive to the showroom when you can have your next car delivered by drone. At least, that’s what some shoppers had in mind when asked how they’d like to buy a car in the future.
The survey found that a sizable number of shoppers would prefer never to have to step foot in a showroom. But it also suggests that Americans still would prefer to own vehicles rather than sharing them as a way to hold down costs.
“The automotive industry continues to evolve before our eyes, especially when it comes to the types of cars manufacturers are producing,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president of Swapalease.com, which commissioned the survey of 2,500 drivers and shoppers. But the industry also needs to rethink the way it sells and finances vehicles, Hall added.
“We’d like to see the industry break out of the mold more when it comes to lease packages and more flexible terms, and this survey shows car shoppers would be in favor of some creative thinking on those fronts,” he said.
Rather than having to go to a showroom and negotiate a deal, 66% of the men and 56% of the women surveyed said they’d prefer to pick a vehicle and then have dealers submit their best bids.
About a third of the women included in the survey, 35%, were particularly open to “showtailing,” visiting a dealership to choose a vehicle but then placing their order online. A full 33% of the men said they would be happy to skip the dealership entirely, conducting the entire purchase process online.
In terms of financing, two-thirds of those surveyed would like to have their financing options – including interest rates – presented ahead of time. Nearly half of the men and more than a quarter of the women also would like to have lenders bid for their business.
More than a third of both men and women would like to have their new cars delivered, rather than having to go to the showroom. And 6% said they’re waiting for the day when a drone will be used to drop that new vehicle into their driveway.
Surprisingly, despite the growth of car-sharing services such as Uber, 43% of the respondents said they have no interest in using these alternatives.
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And 37% said they’re not interested in the autonomous cars some automakers hope to bring to market over the next few years. That’s actually an improvement from a year or two ago when some surveys found that a majority of Americans were skeptical about autonomous vehicles.
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Whether the auto industry will evolve to reflect the changes consumers say they do want is far from certain. Industry data suggest that the vast majority of shoppers go online during at least some part of the automotive buying process. But strict state franchise laws have so far made it difficult for the industry to radical alter the traditional dealer model.
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Nonetheless, there are cracks in the armor. Tesla has been fighting an intense lobbying and legal fight to set up a network of factory-owned showrooms. It has lost in some states but won in others, including New Jersey, which just approved its retail model.
Meanwhile, Florida-based megadealer chain AutoNation has been expanding an online retailing process that some believe could serve as a prototype for a more high-tech approach in the years ahead.