By on July 18, 2014

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AutoNation, which is America’s largest dealership chain, is embarking on a two-year, $100-million project that will include that creation of an app that will allow shoppers to purchase cars online, in a method similar to traditional e-commerce.

CEO Mike Jackson told the Wall Street Journal

“You can sit at home, watch TV. You can view our entire inventory, select the vehicle you’re interested in, get a price and then you can send us a deposit… That vehicle then becomes the customer’s car without the customer “ever having entered the store.”

Jackson had previously declared his war on third-party lead generation sites like Cars.com and Edmunds, and announced plans to shore up AutoNation’s web presence. The ability to select a vehicle from inventory was one of his online strategy’s key selling points, as current lead generation sites often do not have that capability.

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47 Comments on “Want To Buy A New Car? There Will Be An App For That...”


  • avatar
    VoGo

    I’m waiting for AutoTinder

  • avatar

    Hope it works with BITCOIN lol

  • avatar
    Eiriksmal

    From Hacker News this morning, Dell now accepts Bitcoins.

    Cryptocurrency appears to be here to stay, BTSR.
    https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8053860

    • 0 avatar

      How about you name a company for me that DOESN’T PRODUCE GARBAGE?

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Tiger Direct? DISH network? I dunno, I’m sure there are other companies highly respected which accept it.

        BTC is likely here to stay. Unfortunately its too late for someone who’s not already rich to get rich from it. I wish I had bought the video cards and gone mining in the early days.

        • 0 avatar

          TIGER DIRECT will eventually be annihilated by a combination of Micro Center and Ebay.

          DISH NETWORK???

          Are you serious LOL… FIOS FTW

          Try again buddy!

          • 0 avatar
            tekdemon

            Ebay hasn’t had competitive prices on electronics in years, their fees are so absurdly high you’re better off buying pretty much anywhere else for most things.

            Newegg also takes bitcoin anyways and between them and TigerDirect that’s the bulk of online electronics retailers.

            But none of this will improve bitcoin prices, that’s going to come in the fourth quarter. Believe or don’t believe, but 10 years from now you’ll probably regret trashing bitcoin instead of loading up.

      • 0 avatar
        Eiriksmal

        *squints* I’m failing to see what that has to do with a huge company accepting a new form of payment.

        My point is that your facetious remark may have some truth to it. If you’re going to modernize how cars are purchased, why not appeal to the 0.001% who’re interested in modern currency–cryptocurrency? It’s not like the added expense (figure a few grand in development costs) makes it prohibitively expensive.

        Edit: If it’s not obvious, this is directed at BTSR. I started this comment an hour ago before KVNDoom’s was added, then wandered off. :D

        • 0 avatar

          “why not appeal to the 0.001% who’re interested in modern currency–cryptocurrency?”

          SUUUUURE why not also sell cars to Gault.io users with “Gault Coins”???

          Tell you what:

          I’ll accept bitcoins when the IRS allows me to pay my taxes with em.

          DEAL?

          How many bitcoins for a Challenger HELLCAT?

          • 0 avatar
            LectroByte

            We Take Bitcoin Payments For
            New Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler And Ram

            http://www.overlandparkjeepdodge.net/bitcoin.htm

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        We Take Bitcoin Payments For
        New Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler And Ram

        http://www.overlandparkjeepdodge.net/bitcoin.htm

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Any takers so far?

          • 0 avatar
            LectroByte

            Who knows. Someone asked show me a company that takes bitcoin “that DOESN’T PRODUCE GARBAGE” and I figured that our local Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge dealer would make them happy. Not sure why the double post though, sorry about that.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            A bitcoin transaction, especially on a Hellcat could be a way of repatriating offshore money. It could be done as a straight transaction – just out and out buy the Hellcat with the offshore funds.

            However, if one wants to be careful and it’s an added dealer markup situation, you have the dealer write up the transaction as a few dollars over invoice, which is paid in local funds. Then the invoice to MSRP difference plus the ADM is paid off-the-books with bitcoin. Probably to a separate “special” bitcoin account.

            So, in other words, the dealer could be charging the ADM, but then giving the buyer a way of paying it with offshore funds that get repatriated without paying taxes. That’s why some of us are skeptical about bitcoins survival.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So another case of “do as I say not as I do.”

    ONLINE CAR SALES ARE WRONG! Unless I’m the one doing it.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Congratulations — car buying has now entered the year 2000.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Two years and $100 million? This sounds like a government project. I thought AutoNation was a private company. There are lots of small time web developers who could do this in a few weeks for a few thousand dollars.

    There are things I can buy on line. Examples are books, CDs and DVDs. With cars, it’s drive before buy. That’s the one service a dealer provides that I can’t get elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      They’re publicly owned. But they had to do something because their earnings for the last quarter fell short of forecasts.

      This “buying with an app” thing is just to generate interest and create floor traffic because their retail prices have been higher. Anyone with half a brain would know that it doesn’t take two years and $100 million to create an app that you can buy a car with.

      My grandson is currently shopping for a V6 Accord, without an app, and looks at dealer inventory, PDF window sticker, gets an internet price, all done without muss or fuss, and without having to go to the dealer. He tried going to a dealership with his wife at first, but going to the dealership in person brings along all sorts of issues all their own. Among them, the BS that the sales staff and sales manager fill their ears with. So now he does it over the internet. No issues. No BS. Just high prices.

      Is internet buying any cheaper than visiting the dealership in person? Some people say so, others say differently.

      I guess it depends on how much the dealership needs to make on each sale. Some dealerships want to make a killing on each sale. Others are more interested in moving that iron, even if it means a lower profit.

      The sale is made when everything is in balance. And that can take a long time to sort out.

  • avatar
    turboprius

    AutoNation seems A LOT better since it became AutoNation dealers, not local names. Lower prices, better reviews, etc. But wait, those Route 22 dealerships and Bill Heard (read about them) are better than the AutoNation I remember.

    Six years ago, we bought our Rogue when it was still called Team. They took our MPV right at the start, and since the Rogue was a showroom car in the smack center, it’s battery was dead. Jumping failed, so it took a couple hours to get a new one. Then, they had to drive the other cars out to get the one we wanted. We were there for probably five or six hours. Never went back, and for warranty repairs, went to another dealer.

    But all the Team dealerships I went to were some of the worst I’d been to. Glad AutoNation is doing better and developing an app. Proud of them. Wouldn’t mind getting the fourth vehicle from one of their places.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    A hundred million dollars? $100,000,000? What about this is so hard it couldn’t be done for like, six grand? How do they even have $100,000,000 in capital to spend on this?
    You could probably buy all of Mitsubishi North America for less than that.

    It’s probably so expensive because they search your photos, emails, facebook and profile the kind of car you’ll want, down to the color, then it scans your finances and sees what you could afford, and then automatically buys the car for you out of your account, before you even knew that you wanted to buy a car. It’ll know you’re pregnant before you do, and will repo that car and send you a minivan a week before the due date.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      With all due respect, 6 grand won’t even pay for a decent server. This isn’t somebody putting-up their vacation pictures, it’s “America’s largest dealership chain” updating their entire IT infrastructure, including an app.

      In my experience, the people who claim this kind of thing can be done for 6 grand are the ones who complain the loudest when their 6 grand service crashes under moderate load.

    • 0 avatar
      formula m

      Mitsubishi Products:Mining, shipbuilding, telecom, financial services, insurance, electronics, automotive, construction, heavy industries, oil and gas, real estate, foods and beverages, chemicals, steel, aviation and others
      Revenue US$ 248.6 Billion (2010)
      Profit US$ 7.2 Billion (2010)
      Employees 350,000 (2010)
      Subsidiaries List of subsidiaries
      Website Mitsubishi.com
      Your not getting any part of Mitsubishi for that price

      This sounds like the $100m app is allowing you to put deposits on a vehicls electronically. You can do this over the phone with a dealership using a credit card.
      I had a customer test drive a vette. He left and tried a Porsche. Called me back and said his golf clubs couldn’t fit in the Porsche so he would take the vette. I took his credit card over the phone for his deposit. Just one example.

      The app will take deposits on cars that aren’t even there just to get customers to the dealership. Its an “app” for “bait & switch”

  • avatar
    Freddie

    I don’t want to buy a car that I have not sat in, test driven, etc. Will car dealers face the same problem as Best Buy: customers come in , take the salesman’s time to figure out which electronics gadget they want, then go home and order from the cheapest on-line warehouse?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Yes, I believe that already happens to some extent now. You will test drive the two or three cars you are interested in. Then go online to Edmunds, Truecar, local dealers and get the best price/service you want and then go and buy it.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Real life experience from my grandson. He and his wife test drove a V6 Accord last Friday. Liked it. Sat down to find out what it was going to cost them. Four hours later, the price was still too high at that dealership, so they walked out. The dealership lost a sure sale. My grandson and his wife wasted five hours but walked away knowing how a V6 Accord drove and behaved on the road.

        Now they shop price over the internet on a V6 Accord. They will test drive it if the deal is doable.

        • 0 avatar
          RedStapler

          My general rule of thumb is I walk after 60-80min if they are not at my price or very close.

        • 0 avatar
          tuffjuff

          @hdc

          Your example is why I hate car dealerships: they’re like a damn black hole, and you’re going to be there way longer than you should have to be.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Truth. I want a year knocked off purgatory for every hour spent at a dealership.

            The problems are, of course, test drives and trade-ins. Dealerships take on the risk of all those corroding turkeys sitting on their lots and provide the service of selling your trade to the effed-up members of the public so you don’t have to give up 2 weeks of evening mobility to meet the 4 whack jobs out every 5 lookers.

            Nothing is free.

        • 0 avatar
          JD23

          That’s why I do all my negotiating online – I would rather spend four hours getting a root canal than sitting in some saleman’s cubicle.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          For all who responded to my comment above, there is GOOD NEWS.

          My grandson bought a 2014 V6 Accord EX-L late this morning at a dealership he contacted online. Didn’t even talk to anyone in person. All handled online.

          The whole deal came in under $30K, out the door, which is exactly what we all had wanted.

          The Wrangler trade-in value on paper was $15K and he managed to put $11,500 with it in cash (check actually), and put the remainder on his credit card.

          His father (my son), his father-in-law, and I will split that remainder (<$3500) three ways. Kinda like a baby present for my grandson and his wife.

          You know, there really was no negotiating at all online. My grandson picked out the lowest priced V6 Accord in that dealership's inventory, asked for an e-price (or internet price) online, and got a reply back within fifteen minutes and it was under $30K. He told them he and his wife would be down in an hour.

          He didn't meet the internet sales manager until he got to the dealership in San Diego, about 45 miles away from where he lives.

          They took the car out for a test drive, by themselves – no salesman along, mostly on Interstate 805 and 5, some in-city roads like Balboa Ave, Kearney Mesa Road, etc, and liked the car.

          No app required, and all's well that ends well.

          I'm glad that's behind us. I always get wound up tight when one of mine is stressing. And my grandson was stressing!

  • avatar

    I don’t know about this whole app thing (sounds overrated to me) but you did some good advertising for Autonation, because I looked at one of their Dallas dealerships (closest ones to me), and they had several vehicles I’d be interested in. And they were very polite and knowledgable over the phone. It’s no trouble at all for me to travel to Dallas and buy a car if it means saving a few thousand bucks over locally priced ones, so they might have just made a sell.

  • avatar

    what a squandering of time and money for an app that already exists. it’s called a telephone. these corporate management types justify their positions by spending big dollars, usually at whim and waste.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Most dealerships already let you view their inventory, pull a PDF window sticker, and interact with the Sales Manager. I presume that this app will only be for Autonation dealerships, whereas going on-line does not limit the potential buyer to just one retailer.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        And if you aren’t familiar with a vehicle there’s the Saabkyle virtual test drive beforehand. And cars.com to let you easily compare inventory.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Buickman to his new iphone: “Siri, call the local dealership”

      Nearby granddaughter: “Uh, grandpa, you have to press the button on the bottom of the phone and hold it for a second”

      Buickman: “OK, thanks dear”. Pushing button: “Siri, call the local dealership”

      Siri: “I found 15 auto dealers nearby”

      Buickman: “Terrific. Call the one on main street”

      Siri: “I don’t have a phone number for Duane Fleet”

      Buickman: “No dammit, I’m trying to prove that you don’t need an app to buy a car”

      Siri: “Your language!”

      Buickman: “Play along, honey; I need to prove to the people at TTAC that you don’t need a freakin’ app to buy a car”

      Siri: “I found 4 places to get your freak on; 2 of them nearby”

      Buickman: “No, no, no, I need to show I don’t need an app!”

      Siri: “I found you a place to take a nap. Want to see a picture?”

      Buickman: “Gah! It’s all a plot by the Rothschilds to get me. I give up”

  • avatar
    AJ

    Regarding this quote, “let customers control their shopping experiences”… I find that amusing. First of all he’s admitting that it doesn’t currently happen. Good luck on that change! The entire sales floor is organized, scripted and devoted to doing just the opposite of such.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I don’t see how setting this up can cost all that money, but after hearing what a new razor blade costs to bring to market, I can see how it gets stupid expensive, quick.

    I went to the autonation website, and was generally pleased at some of the prices I saw on a couple of different cars. I wouldn’t mind flying out ~500 miles or so to pick up a car I liked, but I would rather deal locally, over emails if possible, or on the phone. Once you get inside the dealership, the tension, and most of the time, the games, begins.

  • avatar
    JD23

    After several experiences with the service departments at Autonation dealerships, it would take a whole lot more than a mobile app for me to willingly engage in a transaction with them.

  • avatar

    I went the Costco way twice already, simple and easy as long as you have basic knowledge of the price, the only problem, they give you a choice of one dealer, it matters only if it’s a small dealer, luckily, this time, I was looking for an Accord, that dealer had over 300 in stock so it was very easy to find the right car.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      No you can ask for another dealer. When I purchased a car through the Costco program I told them that I didn’t like the dealer nearest me as I’d dealt with them before so they gave the the contact info for another dealer. The did not have the exact vehicle I wanted but they obtained it from another dealer.


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