A growing number of people are ready to buy new cars on the Internet without even a test drive.
During a media event this month in Detroit, Mitch Ferro from MCI WorldCom Advanced Networks in Fairfax, Va., stressed how the Internet is changing new-car buying.
Citing a study from Dohring Co. of Glendale, Calif., Ferro said 10 percent of new-car buyers today are willing to buy a vehicle on the Internet without a test drive, up from 4 percent a year ago.
And why not? Consumers today are more confident about new-vehicle quality and durability than ever before. Plus, Web surfers find it easy to research a vehicle and talk online to other people who own that model.
A remarketing manager for one automotive finance company tells me he had no reservations when he bought a new car over the Internet. He knew the vehicle's reputation. He knew exactly what he wanted. The only problem he faced was convincing the dealer he didn't need a test drive.
But used cars, as comedian Dennis Miller might say, are a different breed of cat.
Not all 1995 Honda Accords found on the Internet - even the ones with comparable mileage -are the same. Consumers need to kick the tires and get behind the wheel. Otherwise, no deal.
Online vehicle brokers continue to boost their presence on the Web. But, particularly on the used-car side, they remain sources of information. The sale itself still is completed at the dealership.
Used-car salespeople, educate yourselves on the Internet. But don't lose any sleep at night. Computers won't be replacing you anytime soon.
Readers of the Dec. 7 Used Cars page probably were wondering what the heck happened to Adesa Corp. I reported the wholesale auction chain sold 232,000 vehicles during the first nine months of 1998. Actually, Indianapolis-based Adesa sold 682,000 vehicles during that period, up from 594,000 vehicles for the first nine months of 1997. The 232,000-unit figure was for the third quarter of 1998.
Joe Miller welcomes comments. Call him at (313) 446-1635 or send e-mail to [email protected]