By on March 18, 2013

Google is planning a national roll out of their new car shopping service sometime in early 2014, and dealers are preparing themselves – with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Automotive News quotes one internet manager for a mid-western dealer lamenting the loss of site traffic for his stores. As much as 66 percent of dealer website traffic comes from Google itself, but that number could plummet once Google Cars is online across America.

On the other hand, dealers such as the Fladeboe Automotive Group, which operates 4 stores in Orange County, are being proactive in approaching Google, even though Google’s auction process for leads will likely be more expensive than other lead generation services. Google’s advantages, such as an immensely strong brand, a simple and easy-to-use shopping tool and the ability to place itself as the first result on any given search page will help ensure a solid footing for the service. And while Google Cars has a similar mission to TrueCar, Google’s enormous resources could prevent it from facing the same kind of meltdown and reinvention that forced TrueCar’s hand in their war against the OEMs.

Ironically, the big losers in any Google Cars victory could likely be automotive journalists themselves. Many “content sites” that make up the bulk of online automotive journalism are simply arms of car sales sites like Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. If revenues fall dramatically, editorial budgets are often the first to go. Google Cars will notably stay out of the content game, since Google’s primary strength is aggregating everyone else’s content. Forget the new car sales race amongst brands – this will be the competition to watch over the next 18 months. Especially if NADA gets involved.

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14 Comments on “Countdown 2014: National Rollout Of Google Cars Has Dealers Lining Up...”

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Given that, for most people, the car buying transaction has 3 components (the price of the new car, the trade in of the old one and financing terms) I’m not sure what the dealers are so worried about.

    I don’t think it’s going to be possible to incorporate all three of those elements into a single package that someone bids on, because of the wide differentiation in condition, etc. of the trade-in. For the dealer selling the trade in, the cost of reconditioning is going to be significant, so he’s going to want to know more specifics about the condition of the body and interior than just “fair” or “paint not perfect” before putting a price on it.

    Even if you have your own financing or you pay cash, if you’re doing a trade, I don’t see how you can avoid physically shopping your car to the dealer if you want to “get the best deal.”

    • 0 avatar

      What proportion of new car sales have a trade in at the dealer?

      how much does that % drop when subselecting on online price shoppers? It would seem like the most aggressively price sensative would also be the least likely to trade a car atthe dealer.

  • avatar

    I really hope this can help me AVOID going to the dealer when buying a new car.

    – I don’t trade in
    – I’m happy to bring my own financing.
    – Give me the lowest price in the configuration I want, let me hand you a check, and let me pick up the car.

    I really hope this is how it is going to work.

    Edit: Even better if I can use shoprunner and have it delivered via free 2-day shipping to my driveway.

    • 0 avatar

      Not really. This is just lead-generation. ie. The ‘request a dealer to spam me’ function on Edmunds, etc..

    • 0 avatar

      you already have a spreadsheet program and email, so just write up a template for dealers to fill in and email it out to them, then run rounds of bidding until only one is left. I did this back in 2000. I was happy. I went to the dealer to pick it up and was out in 40 minutes and never went back to that dealer. I never returned a phone call and made that clear in my emails. Pretty low stress, low hassle way to do it. I even leased, so my spreadsheet was more complicated than your’s has to be.

  • avatar

    Smart dealers will embrace, partner, and embrace some more. I would bet $10 that people delay purchasing a car for X months because of the shopping experience. Whatever dealer can remove it, wins.

    I don’t believe the “no haggle” dealerships are any different than the rest. The haggling has just moved into the finance office.

    • 0 avatar
      Carl Kolchak

      Here in the Twin Cities, you have a bunch of “No Haggle” dealers. Just a way for the shops to bake in what they want to get on a car, especially on used cars.

  • avatar

    I just checked it out and found it amusing that Google doesn’t recognize Ram as a brand, pleasing “get off my lawn” types across the country no doubt.

    I’m surprised that they haven’t integrated some sort of consumer rating though.

  • avatar

    The guy complaining about loss of traffic to his dealer site needs to realize it’s because every car dealership website is TERRIBLE. Even a lot of manufacturer’s sites are awful (I’m looking at you Toyota). We know google can create a better, more user friendly site to go to for what buyers are looking for. I have never seen a dealership site that was anything but painful to use.

    • 0 avatar

      Some websites are reasonably easy to use – especially for a configurator such as Ford. Dodge isn`t very helpful and I agree with you on Toyota. The site itself looks attractive enough, but since I love in one of the five South East Toyota states I have to go through their website to “build a car”. Whereas if I use my father-in-laws Ohio zipcode I get the regular Toyota configurator which is perfectly good. SET really sucks and I wish Toyota would cancel their agreement to use them to distribute their cars since it is no longer needed and just adds a layer of expense.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        YMMV. Ford’s configuration site doesn’t work well on Firefox but works really well on IE for me. IE and Synch? I’m heading to the kitchen to make my tinfoil hat.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    “I just checked it out and found it amusing that Google doesn’t recognize Ram as a brand, pleasing “get off my lawn” types across the country no doubt.”

    Maybe they’re fortune tellers. Stupidest move ever. Dodge = Ram and visa versa. I bet they’ll change it back within 2-3 years.

  • avatar

    An avenue that favors the cosumer.
    And all it took was Google with more money than God to kick NADA’s bulleying back into a corner.
    That is exactly how Google and Amazon practcally mint money. Slaughtering sacred cows.

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