Hyundai has “ventured into the unknown” with its new Click and Collect online sales platform, but 30 sales in the first three weeks suggest customers will embrace the concept.
That is the view of Hyundai UK president and chief executive, Tony Whitehorn, who admitted that he was “surprised” that people are willing to buy a car without seeing it, but said that the new online sales offering is good for customers and dealers.
And as the total number of people who have bought a car via the platform – launched in January 6th – reached 30, Whitehorn suggested that it did not, necessarily, single an end to the haggle.
“What is happening at the moment is that we are seeing customers who are much more flexible about the way they purchase and we have to evolve to reflect that,” said Whitehorn.
“In terms of the potential of the market, the number of people that might buy a car online, I really don’t know . I’d love a crystal ball. What I am sure about is that 2.6 million cars were bought in dealerships last year and that will largely be the same in 2017. Ask me if that will be the case in 30 or 40 years’ time and I’d say that I doubt it.
“Ultimately, we have entered into the unknown. We have invested an awful lot of money in this but that is the kind of business we are. We take risks and go places that others might not.”
Whitehorn said that a shift towards online sales did not sound the death knell for traditional dealerships.
Hyundai’s online offering requires customers to visit the dealership to sign finance agreements where applicable and he insists that it’s “not like buying a washing machine”, adding: “People want a relationship with their local dealership so they know where they can go for aftersales and who they might turn to should they have any issues.”
To date, Click to Buy has seen 127,000 visitors and 8,000 vehicle configurations, with a total of 467 registered users.
Of the 30 online car buyers which Hyundai have dealt with to date, 22 bought vehicles on PCP, seven via a HP agreement and just one with cash.
Whitehorn conceded that, despite the fixed price policy of Click and Buy, some customers may get a better deal if they deal directly with their local dealership.
He added that dealers receive their fuyll margin on sales from the new Click and Collect site, but will not need to pay salesmen any commission – helping to realise extra profit.
He said: “This process is fantastic for the dealer.”
The first customer to buy a car from Hyundai via Click and Collect was 65-year old retired security officer Keith Peile, from Poole, who replaced his i10 with a brand new model.
Peile said: “It was just so straight-forward. It only took ten minutes to choose the options and paint colour of my new i10.
“I knew I would be getting the best deal from the site so I was very happy with the final price. Paying was easy too – I just put my details in once for the initial deposit which were immediately retrieved when I paid the balance.”
As an existing owner of an i10, which he traded in via the site, Peile felt he didn’t need to test drive – an option which is open to all customers – and while he could have had his new car delivered to his home address, Mr Piele wanted to complete the purchase at his local dealership, as did 93 per cent of Click To Buy customers.
He said: “Click to Buy is definitely the future. It just gives people more choice, because you can purchase a car when it suits you. Would I buy a Hyundai over the internet again? Absolutely.”