Advertisement

‘Car makers have much to learn from poor April sales figures’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler wonders why it’s taken the coronavirus crisis for more manufactures to embrace online buying

Anyone expecting anything other than a near total wipeout in car sales during April must be living in cloud cuckoo land. The 97 per cent drop in registrations is woeful news for an industry already in the doldrums, but there are clear learnings for the future of retail.

Surprisingly, the appetite for car buying – or at least taking delivery of an already-ordered new car – didn’t disappear completely during April. But no car makers were geared up to be able to complete purchases and make deliveries during lockdown – except one: Tesla.

We’d already predicted that Tesla would top the UK car sales charts in April because, quite simply, it was the only manufacturer set up for online ordering and delivery long before the outbreak of the pandemic.

Advertisement - Article continues below

One reader sent me pictures of him taking delivery of his new Tesla Model 3, and described the online order process and contactless handover as ‘the future’.

So it’s no surprise to see other car makers rapidly playing catch up. Jaguar Land Rover, for example, has just announced the full roll-out of its own online buying system. So you can now configure, negotiate, finance and part-ex via the Jaguar and Land Rover websites.

Dealers, too, are rapidly adapting handover bays to contactless deliveries, while in some cases you’ll be able to have your new car left for you on your driveway.

JLR’s UK MD, Rawdon Glover, took me through the process, which includes video consultations, and it is very impressive – the right system at the right time.

Glover couldn’t tell me how many JLR buyers he expected to buy online. I suspect he – and the retailers that fulfil the purchases – will be surprised how many people take it up. Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s bought a car solely online – including those who buy used through the likes of Buyacar – only ever has good things to say about it. But it does beg the usual question: what’s taken so many car makers so long?

Do you agree with Steve? Let us know your thoughts below...

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'
Opinion

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'

Deputy editor John McIlroy points to outgoing Skoda boss as a key reason for the firm's success
15 Jul 2020
"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"
Opinion

"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"

Mike Rutherford recounts some significant stories that may have passed you by in recent weeks
12 Jul 2020
'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'
Kia

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own gam…
18 Apr 2020
'Costs may drop, but buyers’ expectations don’t'
News

'Costs may drop, but buyers’ expectations don’t'

Just because premium brands can offer cheap finance deals, it doesn't mean that they can fob buyers off with poor customer service, says Deputy editor…
15 Apr 2020

Most Popular

New Ferrari Roma 2020 review
Ferrari Roma

New Ferrari Roma 2020 review

The new Ferrari Roma GT is the iconic Italian brand’s latest offering – and it’s a big improvement
4 Aug 2020
Mitsubishi's UK exit: full details and what it means for owners
News

Mitsubishi's UK exit: full details and what it means for owners

Mitsubishi is leaving the UK and Europe. We look at the warranty, servicing and dealership issues facing existing owners of the brand's cars.
31 Jul 2020
"Many car dealerships just don’t try hard enough"
Opinion

"Many car dealerships just don’t try hard enough"

Mike Rutherford thinks the latest Driver Power survey confirms that some car dealerships aren't trying their hardest to sell cars
2 Aug 2020