About the future of buying cars

April 7, 2015 10:55 AM

In today's world, people who want to buy a car are often stuck going through miles of red tape, mountains of paperwork and enough frustration to make sitting in rush hour traffic look enjoyable. But it doesn't have to be this way. In fact, customers have a lot of ideas for improving the car-buying process, and some dealers are starting to listen. 

Autotrader recently conducted its Car Buyer of the Future Study to determine what shoppers want as they browse for a new ride. According to the results, the current setup is not ideal, as only 17 out of more than 4,000 people said they would prefer this process. Luckily, the other few thousand participants had some ideas about how it could be improved in the future. 

What customers want
The results of the study underscored one simple fact: Shoppers want massive changes in all phases of car buying. For instance, many people are unsatisfied with the way test drives are done. Autotrader reported that most would prefer to get behind the wheel in a more casual environment. Instead of a high-pressure situation where they've got a salesperson pushing them to buy, these would-be owners would rather talk with a product specialist who can shed light on the technical performance of the vehicle. They also want the ability to test drive similar cars across different brands. 

"While there is good work going on right now to adapt decades-old sales processes, consumers are telling us that we as an industry are not moving fast enough," said Jared Rowe, president of Autotrader. "By recognizing - and embracing - the need for change, we have a tremendous opportunity to surprise and delight our consumers."

What does the future hold? 
Dealerships that go the extra mile to cater to shoppers may find that the effort pays off. According to the study, 72 percent of respondents said they would go to car lots more often if buying vehicles wasn't such a hassle. They'd also be more likely to purchase cars from the facilities that met their needs, including those that offer auto repair and servicing as a part of sales. 

The study noted that a whopping 83 percent of drivers want access to an auto repair franchise that can care for their specific vehicle - especially if they'll comply with any service agreements or warranties. As many as three-fourths of drivers also want to have a relationship with a service center that's close by for easy access. Finding one of these facilities could make maintaining a car more affordable and enticing. 

Know some basic truths 
There's no telling how long it will take for some needed changes to take effect throughout the auto industry. However, you can be prepared for anything by staying as informed as possible. That starts with knowing what to expect at certain facilities and conducting research beforehand into potential models. Simply knowing a bit about the vehicles you're interested in and what you're looking for could save a lot of time and money. 

Prospective drivers should also know what they're getting themselves into as far as vehicle maintenance and repairs. While this is certainly true when considering used cars, even new models need a little TLC. It's best to have a firm understanding of what scheduled maintenance you'll need to stick to, as well as what the average costs associated with that brand's repairs are. Expenses will vary, but you'll be in a better position to avoid nasty surprises with the help of some prior research. 

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