From new vehicles to new ways to purchase them
My dad loves looking at cars for sale. I would consider it his hobby. If you are in the market for a car, just say the word and he will look for you.
It was the summer of 1993, and I was prepared to buy my first car. A car is a big purchase, and my dad made it clear that it requires discipline and a multi-phased approach. It started with pouring through Sunday auto ad circulars, then required scouting trips to unstaffed lots. Add in a lot of mileage (there were no shortage of auto dealers in the Chicago suburbs), persistent discussions and cryptic notes in all caps on his mini legal pad in the glovebox. The result? Walking away just when I thought we are going to buy, and doing it all again and again. It took all summer. All summer.
However, I headed back to college in a 1988 manual transmission, Toyota Corolla SR22. It was red, had a sunroof and headlights that flipped up when turned on. It was amazing. I had that car until 1998, when I realized on the way home from the hospital that my newborn son’s car seat didn’t fit quite right in the backseat. Should I have been aware of that deficiency before that moment? Yes. Was my dad ready to get to work? You bet.
Flash forward to the summer of 2022, post COVID, when my son (no longer in a car seat) began the process to buy his first car. He started with the tried-and-true source: his grandpa. My dad cruised the lots only to find drastically reduced inventory. My dad and I were set for another fun summer quest.
The next generation had other ideas. My son texted me a link. One click showed me a spiffy clean car, safety features, amenities, payment plans and more. The next week the car showed up in my driveway on a flatbed. My son drove it around the neighborhood, signed the tablet, and metal plates arrived in the mail a week later. No haggling, no handshake. His expectations for the experience were different, and the market delivered. Another happy customer.
Just as automobiles continue to evolve with amazing new automated features, so is the car-buying experience. My dad will forever enjoy the multi-phased, in-person car buying adventure. Does he still remark what a solid car that SR22 was? More often that you’d think. My son was more than satisfied with zooming in and out on a 360-degree view and referencing a vehicle history report. Does he feel like he missed out on a season-long bonding opportunity with his mother? Hard no on that.
Whether you are a jurisdiction or industry member, we all focus on meeting our customers where they are at while pushing forward to offer new innovative experiences. It is exciting to witness this transformation in the automotive industry. I cannot wait to see where we go in the future, always with an unwavering focus on: Safe Drivers, Safe Vehicles, Secure Identities, Saving Lives!