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Transportation

Are Car Dealers a Business Worth Keeping? (vox.com) 439

schwit1 writes: An opinion piece at Vox argues that "car dealers are awful," and the efforts to protect them against direct sales from Tesla and other manufacturers are misguided. "Buying a car involves going from dealer to dealer, each of whom has his own inventory. One guy only has blue paint. The other guy doesn't have the blue paint, and also only has dark gray seats. And each has his own fake sticker prices and complicated cash-back offers. It's no wonder 83 percent consumers say they would rather skip the haggling, and a third of people say doing taxes is less annoying than working with a car dealer.

But it's not just the hassle. State bans on direct sales turn out to cost consumers an enormous amount of cash. It's an enormous problem, and it warrants a federal solution. Cars are the most expensive consumer product that the typical consumer buys. And while it may seem obvious that cars are expensive due to the material and labor required to build them, the logistics of distributing cars is actually a very expensive part of the process. Research by Eric Marti, Garth Saloner, and Michael Spence has concluded that as much as 30 percent of the cost of a car is the cost of distribution.

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Are Car Dealers a Business Worth Keeping?

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  • by Jodka ( 520060 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:14AM (#50817039)

    from the ./ headline:

    Are Car Dealers a Business Worth Keeping?

    Remove the prohibitions on direct sales from manufacturers to the public. If the dealers survive, they are worth keeping. If the dealers fail, they were not.

    • by evilRhino ( 638506 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:27AM (#50817169)
      There's more nuance to things in real life unfortunately. A car manufacturer can certainly get a competitive advantage over retailers since they own a monopoly on supply. It will result in much of the money from car purchases being siphoned away from a local business towards non-taxed multi-national corporations. It might seem like it's a win for the consumer on one front, but the community will lose income and jobs. Don't expect local politicians to support this experiment you devised.
      • by Ionized ( 170001 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:30AM (#50817205) Journal

        most cars sold are sold by dealerships owned by large chains that span counties or states. you might call them regional businesses, but very few of them are small enough to be considered local.

        • Indeed. Bought a jeep wrangler from a "group", they have dealerships all over the San Francisco Bay Area. Most independent dealers (with one lot) look to get bought out by these consortiums. Leaving dealer's like "Fast Bubba's quality cars" trying to sell you a pacer with mis-match panels and primer all over the body. Well, who can blame them? A big pay out for your business is a very attractive offer.
          • If most of the cost of a car is in the distribution, then at least inside the USA, let me trade that cost for the cost of air fare to the automobile assembly plant. I would be willing to buy it there, and "distribute" it myself, driving it home.
        • by TWX ( 665546 )

          most cars sold are sold by dealerships owned by large chains that span counties or states. you might call them regional businesses, but very few of them are small enough to be considered local.

          If anything, the manufacturers are putting ever-increasing requirements on the franchised-dealers, such that many smaller dealers lose their franchises. Several years ago Chrysler ended agreements with probably a third of their dealers, many of them their oldest franchises, because those dealerships would not modernize their facilities and did not contribute much in the way of promotions. Ironically most of those dealerships were on land that was paid-off, so they didn't really have to sell many cars to keep afloat so long as the service department was successful. Not selling cars isn't good for the manufacturer though.

          The only real services that dealerships offer that I value are new-car prep and warranty/recall service. I do not value their out-of-warranty or other paid-service, and I do not value the purchase process. Both are much more trouble than they're worth.

          As far as corporate vs franchise, there are plenty of industries where there are both corporate end-retail locations and there are franchise end-retail locations. Restaurants immediately come to mind.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wulfmans ( 794904 )
        "non-taxed multi-national corporations" When will people realize that no corporation ever pays taxes. Not one dime of a corporations real profits are ever taxed. Taxes are included as a business expense and figured into the price of the product. Who pays the "taxes?" the consumer of said product.
        • by blue9steel ( 2758287 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:40AM (#50817347)
          Actually it depends on the price elasticity of the product or service they're providing.
        • I just markup how much I need an employer to pay me by the amount of the taxes such that it's equivalent to me paying no taxes.

          And the employer marks up the costs of the products we sell so that it's equivalent to him not paying me at all.

          And the customers of those products simply insist that their employers pay them more to cover the cost of the products, so it's like they're getting those products for free.

          Wow, this is awesome. Somehow nobody ever pays for anything in this system. Money doesn't exist! It'

        • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:49AM (#50817471)

          And I don't pay any income taxes, because those are included as an expense when factoring what salary I require in order to work for an employer. And thus my employer pays them. Right?

        • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @12:28PM (#50817851) Journal

          Taxes are regressive. I think that is the point you are making. Eventually the cost of all taxes falls upon "all of us" meaning the least able to pay taxes, pay the most. Always.

        • When will people realize that no corporation ever pays taxes. Not one dime of a corporations real profits are ever taxed. Taxes are included as a business expense and figured into the price of the product. Who pays the "taxes?" the consumer of said product.

          Oh, this nonsense again.

          http://economix.blogs.nytimes.... [nytimes.com]

          Probably most people assume that the corporate income tax is largely paid by consumers of its products or services. That is, they assume that although the tax is nominally levied on the corporation

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:37AM (#50817305)

        The biggest chain of dealerships in the country is owned by Berkshire Hathaway. The "family owned dealership" is about as realistic as the "family owned farm". If the family you are talking about is Warren Buffet's family, then yeah, I guess so, but otherwise, no.

      • by ComputerGeek01 ( 1182793 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:47AM (#50817441)

        I think you're overstating the impact. It would still be in the best interest of the manufacturers to maintain the service contracts that they have with dealerships so that they wouldn't have to micromanage repair centers in every city but they could still maintain their QoS. The dealerships themselves would still maintain their hold on the second hand car market for similar logistic reasons, why micromanage a hundred tiny shops for this one thing AND compete with a hundred established entities to provide a service that you're really not that interested in? You also have the leasing market, which could in theory be picked up by the manufacturers, but I suspect that the dealerships will maintain this one as well. Even if you don't have to chase down a delinquent client, which manufacturers may have to start doing anyway, you're still left with a used car at the end of the lease transaction. Then there is the discount that will naturally be provided to the few car dealerships large enough to buy in bulk. So in the end the car dealerships may lose most of the volume from one revenue stream, but the ones that are diverse enough to begin with won't fold because of this shift.

        • The Car Manafacturers don't care either way. They own the credit-financing companies that you are going to deal with unless you buy your car outright.
          • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @01:58PM (#50818749) Journal

            The Car Manafacturers don't care either way. They own the credit-financing companies that you are going to deal with unless you buy your car outright.

            The only time when borrowing money to buy a car is ever a sane, rational decision is when you get your first real job, and need your first reliable car to get to that job, instead of the junker you've been putting up with. Sadly, we seem to value a borrowed status symbol over sanity.

            • by maz2331 ( 1104901 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @03:11PM (#50819327)

              Or you can get an interest rate under 1%. That is effectively a no-cost loan.

            • by anmre ( 2956771 )

              What are you basing this on?

              The average used car sold in the U.S. is now over $18,000. [chicagotribune.com] If you're personally fortunate enough to buy a car with cash, then congratulations. That's just not reality for most people. As you say, people need a car to get to work. Hence, they have to buy on credit. Otherwise, no job and no savings right? Chicken, egg?

              Also, what's a "first real job" these days?

        • I think you're overstating the impact. It would still be in the best interest of the manufacturers to maintain the service contracts that they have with dealerships so that they wouldn't have to micromanage repair centers in every city but they could still maintain their QoS.

          All they have to do to maintain QoS is just give away the repair information. They don't do that (dealers have access to documentation and tools not available to the general public) but only to protect the dealers' service revenues. And mechanics at independent shops will come to them and give them money to get certified on their repair practices if they want to get that warranty work, so it's actually a win-win for the automaker.

      • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:48AM (#50817457)

        You've suggested there's a dilemma where one does not exist, since a dealership going out of business has little to do with jobs or income for the vast, vast majority of people. If the dealership was filling an actual void in the community, such as being the only place you could buy, sell, or repair certain makes and models, those needs don't disappear with the dealership, so other businesses will step in or will expand on their existing business. The jobs don't go away, and while some of the income may be going to a multinational instead of the wealthiest few guys in the state, 99% of us won't be affected by that change.

        Moreover, dealerships already employ most of their people with repairs and other added-value, post-sale items. Those won't go away even if dealerships lose their government-granted monopoly on car sales in certain states. The jobs that are most likely to go away are car salesman, to which my response is, "and nothing of value was lost". I don't buy this whole "woe is me" line that the dealerships are pushing, and neither should you.

        And if a dealership wasn't filling a void in the community by offering those added-value services, then, frankly, they deserve to go out of business for losing their way, refusing to keep up with the times, and failing to remain competitive. Governments shouldn't be propping up useless businesses. The point of having businesses is not to have jobs, but is rather to do something productive and useful. If the sole purpose of a business is to employ people, then it's already a lost cause.

      • If the best argument for keeping car dealers is that they operate as a local community tax then it's time to get the window breakers out and return us to full employment.
    • The problem with that plan is that the public doesn't really decide: Car manufacturers do. The whole dealer thing was built because manufacturers were going vertical, as manufacturers could unfairly compete with dealers whenever they wanted to: If you sell Chevy, and Chevy decides that they want to just sell direct, they'll just raise the price of the car to you, and not raise the price to the car to direct consumers, squeezing you out. A year of that, and you are out of business.

      Now, that doesn't meant tha

      • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

        There is more than one car manufacturer, and they already engage in heavy competition. What does it matter if dealers are squeezed out of the market? Why is that a bad thing?

    • Dealerships may be horrible places to buy cars from - why else would an increasing number of us buy new cars through a specialized agent who knows how to shop around - but there is a major value in the service component of the dealership model. The traditional service model for electronics is in this case just as bad as the traditional sales model for cars.

      When something goes wrong wrong with your Tesla, would you want to have to mail it back to a distribution center and wait several weeks?

      • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:38AM (#50817315)

        What? Stealership service departments are terrible. Warranty work only.

        They hire the same lame Wyotech grads as Jiffy Lube. Computer says 'X part failed' replace X part, repeat until problem is resolved.

        Fire tech as soon as they start to know anything and ask for more money.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Opposite experience here. I've found dealership service to be much more reliable than independent garages. Around here, pretty much all the independent garages are swindlers and assholes. I wouldn't trust them to change my oil. I'd probably get the car back with a coolant hose that's been punctured.

          After I spent about $800 trying to get my last car to run again, I gave up on show shysters. "This is what's wrong, it'll be $300." $300 later: "Whoops, we ran some more tests, and this is what's wrong, it'

    • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:39AM (#50817329)

      from the ./ headline:

      Are Car Dealers a Business Worth Keeping?

      Remove the prohibitions on direct sales from manufacturers to the public. If the dealers survive, they are worth keeping. If the dealers fail, they were not.

      My God Man! What you are describing sounds like a free market or something.

      This is AMERICA!

    • Wow! An article and a comment promoting deregulation of an entrenched business!

      Very nice!!! Keep up the good work.
    • Yeh... most customers would rather skip the haggling... and get a low price anyway. That's not going to happen though. Instead, ditching the dealers would just mean everyone gets a car for RRP (which is far above the average paid).

    • from the ./ headline:

      Are Car Dealers a Business Worth Keeping?

      Remove the prohibitions on direct sales from manufacturers to the public. If the dealers survive, they are worth keeping. If the dealers fail, they were not.

      I see you have a rather simplistic viewpoint. Let me align that with this analogy.

      Remove the prohibitions (that we ignore anyway) related to all anti-monopoly laws. If any small business survives, they are worth keeping. If they don't survive, then fuck 'em. They were never too big to fail anyway.

      Oh and legalize Amazon Air immediately everywhere. That way we can ensure the death of brick and mortar because no consumer will have to wait for any product ever at that point. Amazon will thrive nicely alon

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:17AM (#50817067)

    Look at the places where people still haggle over crap like a bag of rice or a pair of pants. Their economies are always underdeveloped with a low standard of living. Moreover, look at the most successful retailers: Walmart, Amazon, Target, that Swedish furniture chain, etc. They all have posted prices. They dominate global retail. If haggling was efficient and productive then some Egyptian or Bangladeshi retail chains would dominate global retail. This is not the case. The price tag was one of the most important innovations of capitalism. So why the fuck do we still by cars like some old lady in a 3rd world market haggling over some melons?

    • Wrong headed thinking, the option to wheel and deal is more advanced, and can benefit everyone, and should be an option in our system

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:37AM (#50817293)

        Bullshit. Haggling for car purchases benefits three people:

        1. People who are aggressive negotiators. Not everyone has the stomach *or time* to negotiate on a car.
        2. People with money. Rich people have choice including the ability to wave a fat stack of cash at the dealership. Poor people have to take what they can get.
        3. The dealers who can anchor prices at ridiculous heights. Because of the lack of free information and restrictions on how long people who need cars can go without them before it starts costing big car purchasing is not a free market and thus the invisible hand does not help.

        • 4. People who aren't dependent-buyers.

          The ability to walk away is important. If you are shopping for a car because your car died and you don't have super credit or savings, haggling works about as well as bluffing in poker. You may not have the stomach for that, but it isn't the fault of the haggling system.

      • by Ambassador Kosh ( 18352 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @12:07PM (#50817647)

        I DESPISE haggling. I won't do it under any circumstances. I find it to be a major waste of time and energy.

        When I give someone a price that is the price and it is not open to negotiation. If I see a price and I think it is fair I will pay it, if not I will go somewhere else and that is the end of it.

        If there is somewhere that only does haggling I would just not go there ever. If there is an item that can only be bought with haggling I will just not buy it or pay someone else to do it.

    • . They all have posted prices. They dominate global retail. If haggling was efficient and productive then some Egyptian or Bangladeshi retail chains would dominate global retail

      Haggling is more efficient and productive, and what you wrote doesn't change that. Walmart, Amazon, Target and Ikea all evolved in an area negotiations weren't frequent.

      Amazon modifies it's prices several million times a day. Their offers are take it or leave it, but they definitely do price exploration.

      The price tag was one of the

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:23AM (#50817119)

    Lol, I love beating the dealers to pieces. I game the hell out of them and they can't do a thing about it. Here's what I do.....

    I start with the best advertised car price and call each dealer near me.

    I say, "Here's our best price so far, can you meet it? No, we're not coming in. Just email me your best price and if it's good then we'll come in." I told them exactly what model so the quotes would all be for the exact same vehicle. I also emailed several of them competing quotes from other dealers.

    So I did this several times, getting lower and lower quotes each time. :) They complained bitterly about my doing this, but they beat each other senseless trying to shave another hundred or so off the last set of quotes.

    They would say, "Well if I give you a price then you'll just go to another dealer and they'll give you a lower quote, wah wah wah".

    And I said, "Damn right I will, wouldn't you? I'm just doing my due diligence trying to get a fair price quote. If you don't want to get this sale, don't give me a quote, it's not a problem."

    "Wah wah wah" went the dealers. "This is unfair", "You're just taking advantage of us!", "Wah wah wah", and so on. lol

    But they kept giving us lower and lower quotes. So fug 'em. It's not like I was putting a gun to their heads. :)

    Then I found out something interesting. The dealer physically closest to you is under A LOT of pressure from the car company to sell the car to you, it has to do with their service area and their local sales market. Apparently they get big brownie points for making sales close to their dealership, and they get frowned on if they lose a sale to another dealer farther away. But a dealer farther away will quite happily sell you a car no matter where you live. Hmmmm, let me think about that.... Muwahahahaha. :)

    So once they'd beat each other down pretty close to what they claimed was the "lowest price" they could offer, I spoke to the closest dealer to me (Dealer "A") and told them that Dealer "X' (about 25 miles away) had made me a really good offer, so I was probably going to buy from Dealer "X' , and I was just letting Dealer "A" know to be polite. Cuz I'm a polite guy, you know? That's what makes me so fucking loveable.

    Whoah baby. I was getting a pretty good discount before, but now, as they say, "shit got real". And Dealer "A" dropped the price considerably and threw in a bunch of extra crap and offered to name their first-born child after me. I told them, "Well, I gotta tell Dealer "X" that I'll probably go with you guys then".

    "Oh noes, don't call them!! They'll just offer you a better deal, err, I mean..."

    So to make a long story short, I went through this "closest/farther" cycle a few times, and the prices kept getting lower and lower. And I hadn't even left the house yet, this was all by phone and email . :)

    We did finally end up going with the dealer closest to us, and although I'm sure they made money on the car, they didn't make nearly as much as they would have liked to. We saved over $5000 from the original "best price". I've tried not to cry myself to sleep over this.

    • One thing that was really entertaining I did once: I had an offer from one dealer, and actually went in to visit another dealer. While I was there, I got the first dealer on my cell phone, so I was chatting with both salesmen at the same time. It was hilarious. Yes, definitely the best thing to do is to get the dealers fighting with each other, and make sure they know that they are.
    • by Jaime2 ( 824950 )

      I've always wanted to try a variant of your idea... setting up a web-based interactive auction where the five dealers you invite keep trying to pitch a better deal. Give them a full day to undercut each other, the results should be interesting. Make sure to visit them ahead of time so they can inspect your trade-in and understand that you are a real buyer.

      The scheme I've used in the past is much simpler: first, pick out a car, then go into a dealership with a story that includes you leaving without buying a

      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @12:24PM (#50817819)

        My wife and I have used a gimmick where we go into the dealership together and I do all the talking with the salesdroid and she only acts minimally interested in the process, like the car is for me and she's just along for the experience.

        Once we've sorted out what we want to buy and have some kind of researched invoice price, we switch roles. I quit saying anything at all and she starts negotiating with the salesdroid.

        It really fucks with their head and they don't negotiate well. My wife is kind of an ass-kicker in negotiations to begin with and this gives her a huge psychological advantage. One guy kept trying to talk to me and she got pissed at him and yelled at him for not talking with the person she was actually negotiating with.

        • by Jason Smith ( 3310 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @01:40PM (#50818577)

          My folks would do that, but they'd take it one step further.

          They'd play good cop/bad cop, my dad would really really want the car, my mom would not like it. So they'd argue in front of the salesperson, and my mom would just keep digging in her heels until the price came down a *LOT*.

          Then they'd switch roles. Without warning or obvious signal, they'd reverse on the salesperson. Suddenly she's on board, but my dad wouldn't be sure anymore, and not happy about this, or that, or something else, and you know, she made him think about it a bit, and...

          The poor salesdroids had no idea what to do, so they just kept going lower. They walked out one time with the sales manager almost in tears trying to satisfy them. When they 'reluctantly' agreed to the deal, he was falling all over himself in gratitude... even though he'd just gotten soaked, badly. Like five figures below sticker, four figures below cost badly.

          My dad had been a very successful car salesman way back in the day, and knew every stupid little trick his colleagues would play on the unsuspecting. He quit because he couldn't handle the deceit and dishonesty any more. Flipping it around was highly satisfying to him.

          Mom was just kind of evil.

    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:51AM (#50817487)

      I like to beatup dealers too.

      But I don't buy new cars. Ever.

      If you want a basic transportation special from a dealer, you just have to wait until the empty car hauler shows up. Than go look in their back lot. They will have a dozen or so used cars ready to go to the auction, with a minimum bid in the window. Know that the auction house charges a % and the hauler charges a flat fee. So find the transportation special that's acceptable, read the minimum bid. Go inside, don't talk to any salespeople, (don't acknowledge them or they get commish) offer the sales manager $50 (or $5) more than the minimum bid and don't budge. When he tries to get more, point out how much it will cost him once car is loaded. Say 'tick tock'. They will call you names, say you are starving their kids, Fuck em.

    • Waste of my time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:53AM (#50817491)

      Lol, I love beating the dealers to pieces. I game the hell out of them and they can't do a thing about it.

      Some people do enjoy the negotiation. Most Americans very much do not and I am one of them. And frankly for most people, car dealers are better negotiators. They do it all day every day and they are well practiced. Plus it frankly is a huge time sink and an annoying one at that. I've negotiated plenty of car buys but the experience is never painless or fun.

      And honestly no matter what price you get from a dealer, there is a markup involved. They aren't selling it to you at a loss. I would rather deal directly with the manufacturer and I'd even be ok with splitting the dealer markup between us. Both the manufacturer and I would be better off. Dealers cannot go away soon enough in my opinion.

    • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:54AM (#50817503)

      There is a dealer in Minneapolis that sells nothing but used cars, and most of them are like 1-2 years old with very low miles. My wife bought an Acura MDX that was 1 year old with like 14,000 miles on it and it looked brand new inside and out. We drove the same model and trim new and couldn't see any differences (there was no model year changes).

      And the savings were great, much more than any discount we could have gotten off a new car.

      The car still has an extensive manufacturer warranty, serviceable by any dealer.

      I bought my Volvo S80 V8 used from a dealer, a one owner lease return. I paid HALF the sticker price (sticker found inside the car) with 20K miles on it and it was totally mint.

      The other nice thing is avoiding troublesome new cars.

    • by eth1 ( 94901 )

      Problem is, that really only works with cars that not enough people are buying, and will be sitting around on the lot. Anything where they know a sucker will come in within the week and buy it, they'll just ignore you.

      I buy cars very infrequently, which means I can usually pay cash. This gives a few interesting options. My favorite was doing enough homework to figure out what a good "all-in" price was (includes all the fees, etc.) for a specific car in inventory. Then wait till the end of their month (or qu

  • My only concern of not having a dealer is who to take the car to in the event of a recall or other service that can only be performed by a factory-authorized repair shop. Maybe it's possible to have Toyota or Ford certified garages, but dealers have to live up to much better standards than corner garages or else they could lose their dealership status. The difference between a dealer's service shop and a corner garage is significant.

  • Remember when you saved $75 by buying a computer online ... and when it arrived it had 5 bad pixels on the screen? Yes, and then came the awkward haggling about getting a replacement and who would pay shipping, etc. If you had just gone to a reputable dealer it would have been simpler and maybe worth the $75.

    When you 'kick the tires' at an auto dealer, you are inspecting the vehicle. You can't visually inspect much but the upholstery and paint, but that's important. A test ride probably won't tell you if yo

    • Why can't you do this at a company owned store? What value does a middleman provide that buying from a company owned distribution center wouldn't?
    • by bigpat ( 158134 )

      Remember when you saved $75 by buying a computer online ... and when it arrived it had 5 bad pixels on the screen? Yes, and then came the awkward haggling about getting a replacement and who would pay shipping, etc. If you had just gone to a reputable dealer it would have been simpler and maybe worth the $75.

      Actually I remember a pretty quick transition from buying computers in person in a store to buying pretty much everything from Dell over the phone or online where they would ship you a computer for a lot more than $75 cheaper sometimes. And then I also remember Apple opening stores within a store in Best Buys, starting to do direct sales and then opening their own Apple stores.

      Without state level protectionism and mandates in place for car dealerships then there will undoubtedly be similar types of transit

  • Test drove some cars, found the one I wanted. Emailed every Mazda dealer within 100 miles, send me their best quote including destination (OTD) and I'd pick up the car Sat morning. Included that I would not be calling back and only taking quotes. Got several that asked me to call, those got ignored. Best quote was a good deal in the truecar data, emailed them back that they won and when I'd be coming by. The car was out front ready for me to take around the block when I arrived. Signed paperwork shortly aft

  • by Kartu ( 1490911 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:45AM (#50817403)

    You are not limited by dealer's inventory.
    You normally order a fully customized car, which is built specially for you.
    It normally takes 2-6 weeks to manufacture and deliver it.

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      It definitely doesn't work like that here. I can go to ford.com or honda.com or whatever, tell their website I want a 4 door sedan in midnight blue with leather interiors and GPS, give it my zip (postal) code and it tells me I can't have that car but if I go to this dealer 9 miles away, someone will be happy to show me the car I really want, just sitting on their lot waiting for me.

      • by cpoch ( 673846 )
        You can custom order a car in the US. I've done it, and based on my experience, will do it again next time I want a new car. I got exactly the options I wanted without getting stuck paying for stuff I don't want or would never use. In my case, I ordered before the production began, so I waited 3 months for my car, but for most models already in production, the turnaround is usually 4-6 weeks.

        Granted, you can get some good deals on cars that are just sitting and therefore have been marked down (you have m
  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:47AM (#50817437)

    a third of people say doing taxes is less annoying than working with a car dealer.

    The other two thirds are people who have never bought a car from a dealer.

    Car dealers are useless middlemen that provide little to no value to car buyers. The only reason they still exist in the new car market is because they are protected by law. The sooner they go away the better. If they could provide actual value I wouldn't object to their existence but 99%+ of them are nothing more than a needless markup to the price of the car and add a lot of irritation to the process. Not to mention that many have a well earned reputation for being crooks.

  • Dealership laws are usually examples of IN STATE corruption, not federal, though I don't rule out some federal being involved.

    The GOOD thing about state level corruption is it's easier to bring down the necks of state level reps - you may see them at the grocery store occasionally. That's why we have multiple levels of government - you can tar and feather the locals and doing that keeps the feds scared that it's going to happen to them. The way I see it is we're wasting plenty of feathers from poultry pro

  • by laughingskeptic ( 1004414 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:51AM (#50817489)
    Squeezing $120 billion of efficiency out of a $400 billion industry by largely eliminating the jobs of people who we find irritating might not be the best course of action and could put 1 million irritating people in jobs that bother us even more.
    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      I don't think the industry would actually save the money, they'd need most, if not all the employees that the dealers have but the manufacturer has different incentives for selling the product.
  • That's redundant. Vox is just the old left wing Daily Kos blog, rebranded to try and find a new audience. Everything there should be considered an opinion piece.
  • For too many used are dealers [king5.com] live up to the sterotypes.
  • Vehicle dealerships' business model needs to change with the times, but it wouldn't be a good thing for them to just go the way of the dinosaurs. If you're purchasing something that expensive, don't you want to see it before you commit to the purchase? Test drive it? If you have a problem, wouldn't having a manufacturers' authorized representative physically available to you to handle any problems make much more sense than having to do it over the phone? Think in terms of having to call somewhere like Comca
  • by DirkDaring ( 91233 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @12:12PM (#50817711)

    #3-7 are pretty much lumped together, but here you go:

    #1. The service center
    #2. Car leases (dealers LOVE leases, very profitable for them. May even beat out the service center soon.)
    #3. Added junk (underspray, fabric protection, accessories, etc)
    #4. An extended warranty that you can never use
    #5. Financing (How much per month were you looking at...)
    #6. Handling/Processing
    #7. Kickback from manufacturer

    Then about last on the list:

    #8. Price of the car / markup

  • by Terje Mathisen ( 128806 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @12:14PM (#50817733)

    Having lived in the US previously, I much prefer the Norwegian (and most of the EU) model where you go online or to a dealer and figure out exactly which car you want:

    Engine, paint, transmission, seats etc, then you haggle a bit about the price and order it, with delivery a number of weeks later.

    In the US it seemed dealers really needed to be able to deliver a car TODAY, not tomorrow or next week.

    Personally I ordered a Tesla 4WD model a few days ago, for delivery in the beginning of March.

    The main difference from my last car was in the fixed sticker price: No haggling about rebates, just a simple take it or leave it offer.

    The main reason for getting a Tesla here in Norway is of course our incredibly high import duties and taxes on regular cars (a car with a V8 engine would probably cost 2.5 to 3 times as much as in the US), while a Tesla has no import duties, no sales tax, no road fees and lots of free parking & charging. In a couple of years they have stated that the relative subsidies for zero emission vehicles will get a cap, so only smaller cars will be able to take full advantage.

    Terje

    • This is how cars were sold in the USA at one time. I remember as a boy in the 70s, sitting there with my Dad. The dealer went over a long list of options which even included things such as rear axle ratio and other technical specs. A few weeks later, a piece of Detroit iron was ready for us.

      I think they eliminated that process as part of the general dumbing-down of America.

  • ""Buying a car involves going from dealer to dealer, each of whom has his own inventory"

    Or you could use the web. You may have heard of it. It's awsome, dude.

  • Trade and F&I (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Syncerus ( 213609 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @12:37PM (#50817951)

    Most of the comments have been made by people who have never worked within the automobile industry and who hate the current process of buying a car. That's fine, but they're missing some important parts of the picture. The first unmentioned part is that the majority of deals involve a trade. As much as you think people hate buying cars, you will quickly discover that they hate selling their cars even more. Most people are entirely too lazy to prep their cars for sale, and are usually unwilling to invest in the repairs that will facilitate the sale of their vehicles. The second issue is that a huge percentage of the buying public has marginal to poor credit. The auto dealership essentially preps and polishes the credit application, and then finds a lender willing to buy marginal paper.

    These two criteria eliminate about 85% of the buying public from purchasing directly from the factory. Really.

Lo! Men have become the tool of their tools. -- Henry David Thoreau

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