Dealers still essential in digital car-buying process, says Hyundai UK CEO

Time 5:26 pm, January 23, 2017

DEALERSHIPS will continue to play a vital role in the car-buying process even as buyers turn more towards digital purchasing, says Hyundai Motor UK president and CEO Tony Whitehorn.

Last week the South Korean manufacturer launched ‘Click to Buy’, which allows customers to fully configure and commit to buying a car without ever entering a dealership or speaking to a salesperson. Already, five customers have bought a Hyundai through the service.

But Whitehorn is keen to stress that this doesn’t mean the company’s digitalisation plans spell the end of the traditional dealership.

‘Everyone still wants a relationship with a dealer,’ he said.

‘I think some manufacturers think that they will end up dealing directly with the customer, but that is not how it’s going to work. What will happen is that we’ll do the transaction, but fundamentally, the dealer will do all of the physical process.

‘People also know they’re going to need to get their car serviced, so where do they do that? By bringing the dealer in for the handover, buyers now have a relationship with that dealer for when their car needs a service.’

Hyundai’s Click to Buy service isn’t the first time the manufacturer has offered a new way to buy a car. Its Rockar stores at the Bluewater and Westfield London shopping centres have given customers the chance to buy cars with the help of product ‘Angels’.

Whitehorn believes that combining the dealership and online experience is key to future success. ‘It’s not about taking the dealer out of it, it’s getting rid of the worries and the frustrations of the buying process and making it much more transparent, but then directing you to the dealer for your servicing and the handover process,’ he said.

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Darren Cassey's avatar

Darren is a staff writer for Car Dealer parent company Blackball Media. He has been writing about cars for eight years and tests all the latest models on sale, with previous experience at Car Throttle and DriveTribe.

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