General Motors' planned launch of a digital used-vehicle sales platform, CarBravo, is the latest in a series of such announcements.
CarBravo follows similar tools from other automakers, such as Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Blue Advantage platform, and from dealership groups, such as the Esntial Commerce used-vehicle sales platform co-developed by Penske Automotive Group and Cox Automotive.
The rollout of online sales tools dedicated to used vehicles is happening as two trends in auto retail converge: strong demand for used vehicles as the microchip and inventory shortages persist, and accelerated consumer — and dealership — interest in transacting online.
The business case for automotive e-commerce is increasingly apparent. Cox last week released the findings of a consumer survey taken last year, which highlighted that consumers are more satisfied with the vehicle shopping experience since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. It's not coincidental that dealerships have migrated more of the shopping and purchase experience online during that time frame.
Cox said buyers who did more of the purchase digitally were more satisfied that they got the best deal on the vehicle during a period of higher prices and lower supply, and their happiness with the experience was less affected by inventory constraints than for buyers who transacted more in person.
And dealerships continue to face stiff competition from online used-vehicle retailers, including Carvana and Vroom, that are gaining popularity with consumers. Several executives at dealerships representing GM brands told Automotive News this month that they're happy to see the automaker mount a challenge with CarBravo.
There are a lot of questions still about how these tools will work, and how and whether dealerships and consumers will embrace them. But what's beginning to emerge is that having some ability to transact online is the bare minimum of what consumers expect.