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Virtual dealerships could become a reality thanks to broadband services, which can carry high quality video pictures.

Dealer management systems provider Pinewood believes that the new technology could allow customers to access services ranging from booking a service with a receptionist through a video connection to visiting the showroom remotely, with the help of a sales person equipped with a wireless camera.

“I don’t think this would ever replace a real showroom. Customers still want to feel a car and test drive it,” says Geoff Miller, sales manager at Pinewood.

“But the shape of the dealership in the future will change. It will give dealers the opportunity to extend their customer base more widely than ever before.

A potential customer at the other end of the country will be able to examine a used car in detail and make a purchasing decision without ever visiting the dealership.”

The new technology, ADSL2+, can offer speeds of up to 20Mb per second (the current average is 2Mb) and is currently being trialled by BT and NTL. Services could be in place by 2006.

“We could see virtual showrooms appearing as early as 2008,” says Miller.

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