During a recent visit to my local VW showroom I witnessed the future. After years of predicting how technology will play an ever greater part in car sales I was confronted by what is now the reality.
The new cars on display each had their own tablet PC set-up with an app specifically for car buyers to virtually build their own car with the swipe of a finger. You can look around the example that is physically there in front of you and then look at the colour and spec, line-ups and price it according to your particular budget. Apart from the test drive and price negotiation everything is done for you.
I wonder how long it will be before this concept becomes completely interactive and whilst a customer is building his car, the system will then give an estimated build and delivery date. Who knows it may even allow the buyer to negotiate with it until an acceptable price agreement is reached.
Are the days of the car sales exec likely to become numbered? That is highly unlikely because it is doubtful that we will ever want to lose the personal interaction involved with spending such large sums of money, but it may certainly allow sales staff to concentrate more of their time on offering a better buying experience.
Obviously this innovation won’t be everybody’s cup of tea but for the new generation of car buyers this will be fairly normal as any parent or teacher will tell you most of today’s generation live their lives online anyway.
It maybe many years before this kind of technology takes over completely but as an alternative and especially for customers who just want to “browse” it certainly provides the opportunity to gather information and make immediate comparisons whilst actually being able to take a test drive and speed up the decision making process at the same time.
For the record I built myself a Golf TDi Bluemotion in a lovely blue metallic with leather and a DSG gearbox, I added a sunroof multi-function steering wheel and some Vancouver alloys which came out, according to the tablet PC at around £24,500. Seems like a lot of cash for a Golf but then I wouldn’t expect to pay that at the death, especially with the 4 month lead time quoted by the sales guy I spoke to.
It was a fun 20 minutes and I’m sure that many customers will find the system enjoyable and informative but only time will tell if it changes buying behaviour.