Online car buying has become far more popular as people continue to shop from home. Ordering an SUV the same way you would buy a Nintendo Switch on Amazon was unthinkable a few years ago, but it’s a concept that’s quickly spreading across the industry as Americans seek to significantly reduce their social interactions. Most car companies offer an online buying program, though it’s sometimes built at the dealer level, and many can deliver a new or used vehicle right to your home or office. We compiled a list of the services available to motorists.
Audi’s American dealers started offering online transactions and home delivery well before lockdowns and social-distancing measures were enforced. Many dealers give customers the option of scheduling a Zoom call with a member of the sales team to talk about a specific car, and home delivery is usually available.
Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) offers a program called Drive Forward that its Ram, Jeep, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo divisions are participating in. It brings every step of the car-buying process online and gives customers the option of selecting home delivery if the dealer offers it. The company told Digital Trends the e-signature, and the ability to offer financing online, helped it launch Drive Forward quickly and seamlessly.
Ford announced its Ready, Shop, Go online buying program in 2018, and it’s reaping the rewards of its foresight. Customers are able to configure their car, add any applicable incentives, apply for financing, estimate the value of their trade-in, and complete the transaction online. Most of its dealers can deliver the car to the customer’s home.
The company’s Lincoln division runs a similar program called Effortless Sales. The dealers participating in its Showcase service highlight a car’s interior and exterior features using a video-conferencing tool that shows everything in great detail. For buyers, it’s a stress-free alternative to walking into a dealership and checking out a car in person.
General Motors launched its Shop Click Drive program in 2013 to lure buyers “turned off by the dealership experience” (millennials, according to its research) into one of its cars. Fast forward to 2020, and the service has turned into a germ-free, socially distant way of buying a car. Models made by Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac are available, and buyers can choose to have the car delivered at their home or office.
Honda told us its goal is “to match the emerging customer desire to do more online through the use of technology to make the automobile retail process simple.” A new program called Shop Simple lets you search for a vehicle, calculate its total cost (including taxes and the mandatory destination charge), get a trade-in appraised, and request home delivery from the comfort of your couch.
For now, the program’s availability is limited. Dealerships in a handful of markets, including Nashville, Tennessee, and Portland, Oregon, are participating in the program, and it’s expected to grow in the coming months.
Acura, which Honda owns, calls the program Precision Purchase. It’s currently limited to central Texas, but will expand to other regions in the coming months, as well. The company is also working on pick-up and drop-off options for service.
Mercedes-Benz lets customers configure a car, complete financing, and request home delivery online. It pointed out many of its dealers are willing to work with buyers via online or text messaging to help complete the transaction. Some will even bring a car right to the customer’s home or office for a test drive. However, it doesn’t have an official program.
Mazda told Digital Trends that home delivery options vary from region to region. Some dealers give customers the option of getting a car delivered to their driveway, or requesting that one they already own be picked up for service. “We encourage customers to contact their local dealership to discuss options,” the company said.
Nissan hasn’t launched an official online sales program yet, but many of its dealers are independently making the buying process digital and offering home delivery. The same applies to its Infiniti division.
Porsche told Digital Trends it’s expanding its existing online sales program by fast-tracking dealers through the enrollment process. The service includes new and certified pre-owned cars and covers every aspect of the buying, financing, or leasing a vehicle. Home delivery is possible. The company even helps buyers shop for insurance online.
Some Subaru dealers offer online and remote shopping options. Customers can buy or lease a new or used vehicle, complete all of the paperwork, and get their trade-in appraised from their home or office. They can then arrange curbside pickup to avoid walking into the store or get the car delivered. These services vary from dealer to dealer.
Online sales and home delivery are nothing new for Tesla; it has embraced both for years. Customers can configure one of the company’s electric cars on its website, buy it, and schedule home or office delivery. In-car tutorials accessible via the dashboard-mounted touchscreen help new owners get familiar with the vehicle’s different features.
Toyota and its Lexus division are working with dealers to make buying a new or certified used car online easier, and the chosen vehicle can be delivered straight to the customer’s door at no extra charge. Owners can sometimes get their car serviced without leaving their home, too. “Based on availability, certain Toyota and Lexus dealers can visit a customer’s home or office to perform services such as oil changes and tire rotations,” a spokesperson told us.