Death of a Car Salesman? Sorry, Not Anytime Soon

Most people like the idea of purchasing a shiny new car, but they hate the process. It takes forever even if you know exactly what you want to buy, largely due to all the haggling. The sticker price isn’t the price anyone expects to pay, and getting that number down takes time. When will we say goodbye to the car dealership sales experience?

Unfortunately, the answer is not anytime soon. The system that’s in place right now started when automakers had no luck selling directly to the public. They sold at their factories, door-to-door, and in their own shops, but the franchise system with independent dealers worked best. Despite the age of the internet, most people still go in and buy their cars at the dealership.

It seems like we should be able to ditch that model and simply buy our cars online. There are online configurators that let you build the car you want, see how much it costs, and pick out ever last detail. All we need is a "buy" button to click. According to Economist, it sounds simple, but it’s not. Tesla, for example, has bucked the trend and faces constant legal hurdles for its efforts. Cutting out dealers makes dealers unhappy. That doesn't make it right, but shows that the widespread acceptance of that model will take time. Dealerships don’t want to be put out of business and the many laws enacted over the years to protect them prevent other sales models. Also, despite the frustration, most people’s first impulse is to head to a dealership to buy a new car. Until those two norms change, you can look forward to haggling in a dealership during your next car purchase. 

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