Car dealers back online sales

Buying your car on-line is getting a whole lot better. Smart car buyers have been using the Internet for years as a great source of information. It’s also an easy way to find out the best possible price for a given vehicle.

But many have been reluctant to actually buy a car online, in part because it is such a large expenditure. And a recent case where a Kingston, Ontario man sold a non-existent truck online to an American buyer demonstrated some chinks in the system.

Studies from J.D. Power and Associates found that about 40 per cent of all retail car buyers used the Internet to research their choices. But only 2.7 per cent of buyers actually bought their vehicles online.

Until recently, online car buying wasn’t directly backed by the major auto companies. That’s all changed with new online services such as

Dealers get involved
A national organization of Ford dealers teamed up with the Ford Motor Company to form a Web service allows customers to buy the automaker’s vehicles online. Using, shoppers can configure, select, price, finance and buy Ford vehicles – even schedule delivery of their puhase within minutes.

The transaction will be completed by a local Ford dealer. The customer  chooses the dealer via the website.

Consumers get convenience
“Consumers have sent a clear message: the Internet has become a major force in buying new cars and trucks and in the ownership experience that follows. Now, we have responded,” says Jerry Reynolds, chairman of the dealer group.

What Ford and other automakers (GM will be offering a similar service) have finally realized is that consumers want the convenience of web-based shopping, combined with a real dealership, staffed with real people.

Browsing through the various features available on your favorite car can be a very pleasant Internet experience, especially when you don’t have an over-eager salesperson breathing down your neck.

But at the end of the day, there aren’t many among us who are willing to shell out a year’s pay to a website and await home delivery of our next new car. By making the local dealer a key part of the transaction, the auto companies have found a way to give us the best of both worlds.