General Motors CEO, Dan Akerson, recently made a point about online car buying during a quarterly investor meeting, stating “I don’t think it should go without passing to note that we want people to start buying cars over the internet. Why not in this tech-savvy culture we have, this economy we have, with the millennials coming and saying, ‘I can come and shop and I’ll just go down and sign and go.'” While Akerson didn’t specify when GM plans to engage this strategy, it’s a clear sign that manufacturers have noticed that the internet is affecting retail, and that younger generations are particularly affected (so to speak!).
Over the last five years car shoppers have been presented with interesting compliments to the traditional dealership experience. Services such as Costco and the USAA leverage large membership based for discounted prices. Online car research and pricing sites educate consumers before they reach the dealership. And more troublingly for franchise dealerships, direct to consumer manufacturer Tesla is eating market share reserved for more traditional luxury powerhouses. And therein lies one challenge for manufacturers, as it’s unclear how online sales will affect franchise dealerships.
Check out theverge.com’s take: ‘GM’s CEO wants millennials ‘to start buying cars over the internet’