“The global pandemic has forced businesses to embrace online working and selling – and the automotive industry is no exception”, says What Car?.

To understand where the opportunities and challenges lie for dealers and OEMs, What Car? polled 7229 in-market buyers about their attitudes to buying a car online.

When asked what part of the buying process they enjoy the most, the majority (44.76%) of buyers pointed to online research.

Crucially, however, when asked at which point they’d move from online research to talking to a retailer, 36.87% of respondents said they would do so only when they know the exact car they want, suggesting that it is only at this point that many consumers wish to be sold to.

However, just 5.33% of buyers said they are happy to buy their next vehicle entirely online at present. Of those who wouldn’t buy a car online, 36.42% said they want to see cars in person before buying.

Those polled also said one of the most positive aspects of online buying is the price transparency it offers. Also, 16.8% said they believe buying a car online will save them money.

In contrast, one of the biggest hurdles to online buying is the loss of the test drive opportunity, What Car? shows. This was the biggest reason for respondents saying that they weren’t going to buy online, with 46.3% saying they needed to test drive their next car before signing on the dotted line. A remote, or to-your-door, test drive process would clearly move more buyers online.

Beyond the possibility of test drives, more than 15% of those polled still believe haggling is harder to do online than in person, while 8.47% said they feel they’ll miss out on stock cars by not visiting a dealer.

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