• Jul 1, 2010
Ford has started offering vehicles for direct sale via the internet for United Kingdom customers. Ford conducted its own research and found that almost 40 percent of buyers don't even care about a test drive; they just want what they want with the click of a mouse.

Ford has set 50 dealers up to sell new and used cars and commercial vehicles on the web, and sales swung into action on June 29th. A new call center has also been opened to close the deal for customers that seek an alternative to the online purchase. The cars will be delivered to regional delivery centers; Ford has set up 12 facilities where customers will collect their cars and drive off.

The 550 traditional Ford dealers in the UK might understandably be miffed at this direct-sales move, but they're still the preferred choice of sixty percent of buyers. Haggling is possible with either outlet, and cutting out a level of complexity and cost would make life easier and possibly more profitable for Ford. For now, all statements support both efforts running in parallel.

[Source: Telegraph.co.uk]


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  • 37 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Is anyone else shocked that 40% of people don't care about a test drive?!?

      That is the MOST important thing in my opinion...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Does anyone know of any dirty tricks that dealers play on customers? like, when they 'go to ask the boss' for a price (like extras in movies, mouthing the words 'pumpkin' and 'watermelon' to make it look like they're actually talking?)

      One honda dealer tried to stop me from buying a accord euro (Ex-demo) by having the secretary walk up to me and say 'black is a really bad colour! you poor thing, you're going to be cleaning it every weekend' they reallllly wanted me to buy a new car.

      I walked across the road to the VW dealership, they weren't sneaky at all and incredibly upfront (especially after dealing with dozens of dealerships that week) it's a shame I had to a premium for honesty. People who are buying ANYTHING should not feel uncomfortable, pressured or socially awkward.

      also, what is up with dealer handshakes? they ALL grip like gorillas.
        • 4 Years Ago
        it's a shame I had to *pay a premium for honesty. People who are buying ANYTHING should not feel uncomfortable, pressured or socially awkward.

        sorry!
        • 4 Years Ago
        The gorilla grip is to show dominance. They are presenting themselves as an alpha--it's just one step of many to make you feel as small, stupid and helpless as possible so they can wring every last bit of cash out of you.

        I'd like to see the traditional dealership go away. I'd rather buying a car was more like buying any other large appliance--you walk in, pick the model you want, and the price on the sticker is the price you pay. Period. No BS haggling. No "extras". Walk in, buy, walk out--with the option to purchase online if you want--though I personally would NEVER buy a car I hadn't driven first.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Here is something that would be an interesting idea/concept.

      Ford (or any manufucture for that matter) should open up small centers through out the country.. Call Them experience center's.
      What they would do is have each model there for a test drive. No sales person on property. Just FORD or other manufucture employee's there to administer the test drive experience and demonstrate the product..

      It would be an interesting concept.
      There would be no pressure to purchase.
      The general public could be at ease and enjoy and discover the experience of the new car/truck.

      Nah but that would make too much sense.
      • 4 Years Ago
      " almost 40 percent of buyers don't even care about a test drive"

      appliance buyers that trust that the ride is good enough. I'm sorry, yes working with a dealer can be a pain but I would not want to buy a car without a test drive/ test day. SO, much as I love the idea of buying off the internet for a good deal, if I'm going to test drive, I'm going to buy from a dealer because I loathe the day I pay 20, 30, 40K for a vehicle and then find out that I have an inferior product because I couldnt test drive the cars.

      Last three cars I bought were not the original car I intended to buy from internet research, all because of taking the test drive.
        • 4 Years Ago
        PJ,
        not arguing that but Ford is presenting the online version as separate, as if it would do away with the dealer, thus the comment about the test drive.

        All I'm saying is unless they offer the ability to test drive, the same ability offered now through the dealer, I dont know that I want the dealer to go away just yet. And what's a regional distr. center in Europe is different than what could be offered here. I dont mind driving 45-60 minutes to go drive different cars but making it a weekend event if I have to drive 3-4 hrs is going to be a bugaboo.


        Again, its an issue of "if we had the chance to do it over, we'd do x, but working with legacy has many more constraints.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They're not mutually exclusive. If I go to an Apple Store, I can listen to an iPod before I buy it without being hassled and jerked around. If I go to IKEA, I can sit in my chosen chair or couch without anyone talking to me. Go to Whole Foods, and you can sample the produce without being schmoozed.

        There's no reason it can't work the same way with cars, as long as the manufacturer is making desirable enough products (and hence, enough of a profit margin) that they can afford to employ full-time service staff that simply explain the products and offer sample experiences, as above, before making a sale at a pre-determined RRP.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Or...

        Simply walk into any worthless stealership, test drive the vehicle you want. Go home and purchase said vehicle online.

        I do it all the time with electronics. The fact that retail stores (dealerships too) think their salesmen do anything to assist in the buying experience, other than confusing the hell out of people, is far from the truth. We need a market shift, away from retail giants who haven't got a clue what they're selling.

        I'm buying another subaru in October when my lease is up. I buy subaru for their simplicity and reliability. I will go into any dealership that will let me driver their vehicle, and subsequently I will leave purposely without purchasing. I will go home, relax at my computer desk, research prices and compare, and make my purchase. I do not, and will not deal with ignorant, pushy, arrogant sales people. I am the consumer, and the product is what I'm buying.

        -Josh
      • 4 Years Ago
      Jim in Tampa said; "The engineer in the next office bought her car through the internet. Found the Civic she wanted and emailed four dealership's internet sales divisions with the price she would pay. Two countered and two accepted her offer.
      Which brings up the point that almost all dealerships have internet sales teams. Seems like we're moving in this direction anyway."

      Tried that once.
      When we got to the dealership, the Internet Sales Guy said, "Darn, we just sold that car this morning. But we have ........."
      When we pointed out that that vehicle wasn't on their Sales Board in the showroom, they got a little huffy.
      We left.
      IMHO the dealer's Internet Sales Teams is just another "Bait and Switch" tactic.
        • 4 Years Ago
        write your experience in yelp, google, etc. complain to the car maker.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think its still better to go at dealer side.... but can use online selling to check out the details and specifications of the cars.....




      Jack,
      www.esteemtrucks.com
      • 4 Years Ago
      This had to come sooner or later. Ford have been selling nearly-new ex-corporate cars via dealerships under the Ford Direct programme for nigh on twenty years - dealerships have nittle or no mark-up to speak of and buyers get a car with thousands off list price with a full new-car warranty and you can return it within 14 days even if you don't like the colour. Vauxhall operate a similar programme. The dealer has gradually been squeazed out of the equation.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I bet you'd see an 80-90% take rate if the price online is what they charged the dealer so you would be getting it at actual dealer cost.

      If you deal completly through email then the only time you enter the dealer is to test drive and then pickup/pay for the vehicle after you have already determined the price.

      I'd still prefer to buy directly from the manufacturer at the price the dealer buys it for, then no need to haggle and you know you get a good price.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't really mind the dealer experience. My first time buying a car I was quite nervous, but I found that there were good dealers and bad dealers. If they used high-pressure sales tactics, I walked out. If they recognized that I was well-informed about the process, they treated me with respect and were happy to lay out the payment terms we negotiated clearly, in writing. The good ones have gotten my business, and the prices we settled on were well below the "internet price!" they had posted on their websites. I wouldn't want to lose that negotiating power by agreeing to their initial offer.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's a shame it's illegal for this to happen in the US. I know that I would love to take the dealer out of the shopping experience.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You can do it today - it's called the Classified Ads in your hood's paper. Now start dialing!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yup. But there is no point, because dealerships are way the hell too intertwined with local politics... local dealer laws are not going anywhere.

        The ideal situation would be something like the Apple Store. There would be a few local "stores" owned by Honda or Ford or Toyota (run by the automaker, NOT dealerships), that would let you test drive a car, but also would handle the service side of things. Then you could order the car online and pick it up at the store.
        • 4 Years Ago
        He meant it is illegal to buy from Ford the car maker directly.

        I don't see why this is a big deal. I negotiate price through emails with multiple dealers.

        This year I got 2 Hondas and a VW, and both times I got the price at least 10% under invoice. MSRP and invoice have no meanings nowadays.
        • 4 Years Ago
        CoopDevillE, I don't like to resort to name-calling, but I question your intellect.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The dealership experience is changing, albeit a little slow for 99.9% of us. More and more dealers are putting their sales people on salary, with small spiffs for each sale they make. It's what has been needed for a long time. However, we're still not there yet. And the elephant in the living room is the fact that margins are really bare bones for many models. Most dealers will tell you that they've tried "one price selling," but abandoned it after being hammered by the guy down the street underpricing them.

      Third party auto sites such as carsdirect.com and TrueCar offer [ostensibly] discount price deals for many models and more and more people in their car buying research are bumping into these sites and either using them directly, or using the pricing knowledge derived from them to make a skinny deal with their local dealer. So the American dealership selling model will ultimately have to change, but it won't change quickly enough unless the buying public learns to walk out of a store the instant they get the "usual hustle" from the sales staff.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You can always test drive the car in the dealer then go home and purchase the car online....

      But I do have to agree....not everyone test drive the cars they buy, it happens a lot more in the used car world people sit in turn the car on at most....
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