Consumers are now happy to buy cars over the internet without so much as a test drive. That’s the conclusion that has prompted Ford Retail, owned by the Ford Motor Company, to launch its own direct sales website, FordOnline.co.uk.
The car company says that while shoppers have for some time researched a car purchase online, it has now found that 37% are prepared to buy a car without a test drive. That, it says, removes an important barrier to selling cars online.
Research shows 59% of FordOnline.co.uk visitors are planning to spend between £10,000 and £20,000 on their next vehicle and have wide experience of buying items from TVs to holidays online.
Steve Hood, managing director of FordOnline.co.uk, said: “We are now witnessing a significant proportion of internet customers that both know the car they want and are prepared to buy it direct if the internet retail is credible, like ourselves. It shows that consumers are now ready to fully use the internet in the car industry.”
Customers using the website can search for new and used Fords and then buy via e-mail or by telephone. The car is delivered to one of 12 regional delivery centres. Used cars and vans come cleaned, repaired and checked and with a three month standard warranty.
The site is backed up by a team of Ford specialists working from a free-to-call UK contact centre who can help customers find the best cars, come up with part exchange values and find low prices without a visit to a showroom.
Hood said: “The internet really is the most convenient way to shop for cars now and we are leading the way with FordOnline.co.uk. We pride ourselves on providing car buyers with an ‘easy to buy from’ policy, transparent prices, realistic part exchange values and excellent stock availability – what you see on FordOnline.co.uk is exactly what you get.”
Our view: We’ll be interested to see how this website fares. Is it really true that buyers are happy to spend up to £20,000 on a car they’ve never seen? It seems a leap but it may well be one that shoppers are now ready for. Certainly this has been a feature of the secondhand internet car market – but will it work for dealership cars at, presumably, close to dealership prices? Time will tell.