Penske Automotive Group is making a play for used-vehicle buyers who want to shop online.
Penske is rolling out a new online-buying platform to its seven CarShop used-vehicle-only stores in the U.S. Penske co-developed the technology platform, called Esntial Commerce, with dealership technology company Cox Automotive, which plans to offer it as a white-label product to dealership groups other than Penske starting this fall.
Eventually, Penske plans to offer the platform to its franchised dealerships for used-vehicle sales, though the company did not offer a timeline. Cox leaders said they intend to add new vehicles to the platform, possibly in 2022.
Penske's investment in digital retailing builds on a deepening commitment to e-commerce among the nation's large public auto retailers. Penske, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is No. 2 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S. ranked on 2020 new-vehicle sales.
The Esntial Commerce tool is designed with artificial intelligence that can automate and power Penske's CarShop digital platform and can be accessed through a "buy online" header on the CarShop website. The companies say the technology can enable a consumer's vehicle purchase digitally from the research stage through paperwork and delivery.
Michael Kabcenell, Penske's vice president of retail strategy, said Penske had used many vendors for online retail, but this product allows a "full online transaction that included everything all the way from signature to contract."
"There's no other off-the-shelf product in the market that allows for full transaction," he said. "Believe me, I've looked."