Excerpts from an article by Paul A Eisenstein on NBCNews.com
The internet has transformed how Americans shop, and now automakers are looking to update the car selling process, from cutting out the haggling to allowing motorists to shop from home to even letting customers return cars that don’t satisfy.
Hyundai just launched its Shopper Assurance program, which, among other things, offers potential buyers a three-day money-back guarantee. It targets a number of issues consumers typically complain about. In addition to the three-day money-back guarantee, it will offer “transparent” pricing, flexible test drives and a simpler purchase process.
Maybe your taste and budget run more toward Porsche, but you can’t decide among the classic 911 sports car, the Panamera sedan or the big Cayenne SUV. No problem. Porsche just introduced the Porsche Passport, which lets customers swap vehicles as often as they like.
Audi is offering a concierge rental service, Audi on Demand, in San Francisco. General Motors, meanwhile, launched its own pick-and-choose pilot in New York early this year, with Book by Cadillac letting buyers switch vehicles as often as 18 times a year for a flat $1,500 monthly fee.
Volvo just launched what it also calls a subscription service, Care by Volvo, that is, for now, limited to the new XC40 sport-utility vehicle. Customers pay a flat monthly fee, with no down payment, and will be able to upgrade to a new Volvo in as little as 12 months.
Even for manufacturers still wedded to conventional retailing, things have changed dramatically, said Fran O’Hagan, head of the automotive retail consultancy Pied Piper.
“The role of the dealership and salespeople is still critical,” but where they once were the gatekeepers, he said, buyers usually know what they want before they walk into the showroom, and “the role of the salesperson is to now to help a customer fine-tune their choice of vehicle.”
Yet some speculate that millions of motorists may simply stop buying cars and switch to ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft as they make the transition to driverless vehicles and sharply lower the cost of their services.
Read the full article on NBCNews.com