Buying a new car hasn’t changed much over the years, and still remains a frustrating, time intensive experience.  You have to physically go to a dealer, take a test drive, and then sit down for some negotiations with a salesperson.  Then, this information from the buying step is re-done for financing, titling, and registration.  Has technology smoothed this process any?

honda carThe internet and technology has relentlessly killed inefficiencies in travel, book buying, music purchases, and real estate but surprisingly doesn’t seem to have affected car buying much.  We recently needed a new car and decided to lease a new Honda Civic. Of course, there’s lots you can do now online in terms of dealer cost data and incentives (Edmunds.com) and test drive/safety reports (Consumer Reports).  The dealership even had an “Internet Manager” who I emailed what we were interested in.

The internet efficiency came to a screeching halt once we stepped onto the dealer lot.  All our information had to be reentered into multiple forms (some handwritten and not computerized), and all told took three hours to complete….that’s with little negotiation!  90% of that time was spent waiting around and redoing forms.  The internet manager simply funneled us to a regular salesperson.

Here’s a process that would work for certain customers like myself, who have already done research and don’t need schmoozing.  This would be heaven…

  • Let me rent the car for a couple days with no sales pressure for $100 (applies to deposit if I buy).  Drop the car off at my house, with a short demo of car features while I drive you back to your dealership.
  • Capture all information upfront which may be needed for credit checks, loan information, titling, registration, etc.  If I don’t buy just delete the data.
  • If I want to buy, give me a quote.  At this time you’ve had time to determine my credit score and such, and I’ve had time to research the dealer cost and incentives….so save time by quoting me your dealer cost minus incentives (which I already know anyway).
  • We have a deal!  I’ll drive to the dealership where all the paperwork will already be ready and waiting for signatures.  It would be nice to wash and fill up my car (or swap for actual model) while doing the signing, but this step shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.
  • I’m driving away with a new car and everyone’s happy :-)

What do you think…what other processes could be streamlined to improve and speed up the car buying experience?  Are there other tools available now which achieve these goals?