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Online Car Retailer Launching Nation's First Car "Vending Machine"

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the correct-change-only dept.

Transportation 99

cartechboy writes "Last year's Gallup poll showed that car salespeople are the least trusted professionals in America, ranking even below members of Congress. Enter, Carvana, an online dealership operating in Atlanta, Georgia. They allow customers to shop for cars online, secure loans online, and pay for cars online. Now they have gone one step farther and are claiming to remove the despised car salesperson from test drives and even post-purchase pickup by creating, yes, a giant auto vending machine. The facility, which will open at the end of November, will be a fully digital, 24-7 interactive 'vehicle-delivery center' designed to offer customers pick-up options after purchasing a vehicle online. They'll have floor-to-ceiling windows, custom LED lighting, flat screen TV's plus interactive keypads that identify customers based on unique buyer credentials. There will be three car pickup bays to allow for simultaneous pickups. One thing they won't have: car sales people (Note: there will be customer service reps there to answer questions). Carvana plans to expand on the idea, presumably if this Atlanta facility works."

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99 comments

Free car rental? (1)

Dthief (1700318) | about 8 months ago | (#45480113)

Schedule test drives online......

I mean no weekend trips (they probably limit the time/mileage/etc), but need to go shopping or head to the car dealership? perfect!

Re:Free car rental? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45480265)

This may work if you live next door to the dealer... otherwise, your trip shopping is probably a shorter walk/ride.

Need a new part for your car? "Test drive" one and change out the parts. ;)

Re:Free car rental? (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#45481427)

Also useful if you need a pickup truck for an hour to move something big/heavy.

Re:Free car rental? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 8 months ago | (#45481573)

I dunno.

A few years back, when I was looking to buy a corvette...the dealerships each basically gave me one to drive for a weekend (one was used, one was new), and it was pretty sweet.

I ended up buying the new one.

Re:Free car rental? (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about 8 months ago | (#45480283)

This was my first thought. You probably couldn't do it all the time, but once in a blue moon it could be quite handy for some 30 minute errand.

Re:Free car rental? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#45481413)

Schedule test drives online......

I mean no weekend trips (they probably limit the time/mileage/etc), but need to go shopping or head to the car dealership? perfect!

How will you drive to the car pick-up place? It's probably outside town.

This issue was solved years ago (4, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | about 8 months ago | (#45480115)

Carmakers like Saturn (RIP) offered no-haggle pricing and compensated their sales staff for being consumer-oriented.

The reason car salespeople are horrible is that they're set up to compete with the consumer for a concealed amount of money that is either in rebate or discount to the dealer.

Thus for the consumer, it's guesswork against a predatory salesperson interested only in their commission.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (4, Informative)

flyneye (84093) | about 8 months ago | (#45480157)

It's true. Out of the plethoral diversity of jobs I've taken, car salesman was one I ducked out of for moral reasons. During the morning I shadowed experienced sales, during the afternoon, I trained from "the book". Basically , it's a book that shows you HOW to lie, what you can get away with and the techniques for prying money from innocents hands for a car that may or may not suit them. You don't care, as long as they spend MORE money than they came in to spend. I woke up one morning two weeks later, fixed breakfast, stayed home and felt good about myself. I had another job by afternoon.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 8 months ago | (#45481629)

There's a car dealership in the Phoenix area who when customers came to test drive, they literally threw their keys on the roof, and if the customer wanted to leave they made them sit down for up to 8 hours while they "find" their keys, meanwhile putting sales pressure on them the whole time to buy a new car.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45483017)

That sounds like an easy place to set up for a nice out-of-court settlement...What's the address again?

Re:This issue was solved years ago (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 8 months ago | (#45488091)

LOL , tell me it's Meecham or Mechams lot. The ex-gov. crook.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45483063)

Sounds like you could be teaching English to a plethora of ignoramuses.

scion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45480187)

Scion, Toyota's badge aimed at young urban crowd, also has no haggle pricing. I just bought one a month ago and the entire sales process took under an hour. Sales guy never pressured me in to adding on features I didn't want or need. He even recommended against getting the factory fog lights for $500 and instead just get a brighter main bulb after market.

Can't really comment on the car yet since my last one I drove for 15 years, VW Passat!, and it'll go another 200,000 miles with the new owner. Let's see if Scion can hold up for 15 years.

Re:scion (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 8 months ago | (#45480545)

Scion, Toyota's badge aimed at young urban crowd, also has no haggle pricing

Every other car dealer in America also offers no haggle pricing. Just pay the price on the sticker.

Re:scion (1)

boristdog (133725) | about 8 months ago | (#45481483)

Exactly. If you don't want to haggle, don't haggle, just pay more. The whole "no haggle" pricing BS means "we're screwing you as hard as we can."

Re:scion (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45480871)

He even recommended against getting the factory fog lights for $500 and instead just get a brighter main bulb after market.

Cool that he wanted to save you money but he doesn't seem to understand how fog lights work.

Re:scion (2)

Reece400 (584378) | about 8 months ago | (#45481273)

Mod up, Fog light are supposed to low to the ground so they don't light up the fog directly in front of you reducing visibility - brighter main bulbs would just reduce visibility further in thick fog. Sales people have a bad habit of thinking they know more than they really do.

Re:scion (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 8 months ago | (#45482179)

With a salesperson, they know better... they are willing to say anything to make a deal... The adage of "how do you know when a salesdroid is lying? Their lips are moving." holds quite true.

I'm not exactly a car salesperson's best target. I don't change vehicles often, and I keep my old vehicles, so trades are not a game they can play. When I go to buy, I end up speccing out exactly from the manufacturer I am looking for after doing my homework [1].

[1]: Things like specifying additional keys with the order since an additional $100 is cheaper than $500 per key once the vehicle is at the dealer, or making sure a diesel has a variable high idle option so the DPF [2] does not get plugged.

[2]: I envy Europeans in this area. They get real diesels that don't need concentrated urine to function, nor excessive emissions which do little to no better for air cleaning than the existing ones.

Re:scion (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | about 8 months ago | (#45481447)

Scion, Toyota's badge aimed at young urban crowd, also has no haggle pricing.

There is no such thing as "no haggle pricing"...everything is negotiable.

You can get better than the listed price just by asking in places like Sears, Best Buy, restaurants, etc. You can do this even in places like WalMart, if you can go high enough up the managerial chain. I know, because I have done this personally.

Any car dealer that claims to be "no haggle" is lying, as there were many people who negotiated better than the marked price on Saturn vehicles.

Re:scion (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45482343)

i absolutely fucking hate haggling. being on either end of it. it's probably my own unique emotional defect, but it makes me fucking sick to my stomach to think that i am required to fight with someone just to get a fair price on a product. so i guess i am likely being screwed when i buy something. but honestly i don't really care anymore. i'd rather buy the product from a machine and never even have to speak to a sales person.

Re:scion (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 8 months ago | (#45481557)

Brighter main bulb? Go fuck yourself. Please.

Re:scion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45482143)

A Scion... a box with wheels... heh... brighter bulb... cause bulb not too bright to begin with... a Scion... heh heh heh ha ha hooo hoo hee hah ahahahahahaha

A Tale of Two Toyotas (3, Insightful)

ImprovOmega (744717) | about 8 months ago | (#45482073)

I live in a small town a couple of hours away from a major city. A couple of years ago my wife and I went to the local dealership to try and get a reasonable priced lease on a new Camry. Not only did the local dealership insist on us paying full sticker price, they also wanted to add on top about another $1000 for dealer added "upgrades". They were absolutely adamant about not budging on the price, to the point of insulting me to my face claiming that I just didn't understand financing. After a few hours of back and forth we left disgusted.

Flash forward two weeks later. We go on over to the major city, make an appointment with a salesman at one of their Toyota dealerships and book a hotel room for a weekend of R&R in case this goes south. We show up at that dealership and are greeted by a friendly guy who has a couple of cars ready for us to pick from for a test drive. The sticker price goes out the window as he starts off with a deal about $2500 under the factory sticker, no weird dealer add-ons, and all the same or better features as we were looking at in the small town. Quick test drive and some paperwork later and we were in and out in less than an hour with a far more pleasing experience and at least $50/month lower payment than the local dealership was trying to foist on us.

The lesson to be learned here is that not all dealerships are created equal. Yes, some of them are packed with slimeballs out to screw you over, but others do in fact have decent folks staffing them and a non-sociopathic manager who understands that giving people a good experience at a reasonable price will get so much more business in the long haul that it's the far better path to take. You really do have to shop around. Oh, and it helps to know the dealer invoice price. If you know what they paid for the car then you're in a far better position to negotiate.

TL;DR If you're willing to shop around you'll find that not all dealers are dickholes.

Re:A Tale of Two Toyotas (1)

jfengel (409917) | about 8 months ago | (#45484961)

I wonder what made the first dealer so confident that he could either (a) bully you into taking his price, or (b) get somebody else to buy the car at that price.

The answer, I suspect is that it's (a), and that the reason is that he didn't expect you to drive several hours. There was the risk to you that you'd drive all the way there and not get a much better deal, which you did.

He seems to have miscalculated, and he lost a sale in the process. He's not just a dickhole; he's a bad salesman. If the city dealer (who probably has higher costs) could sell it for $2500 under sticker, this guy could probably have convinced you to buy it at a penny below sticker and still turned a $2,500 profit. After all, it would have saved you a fair bit of travel for the uncertain price: you didn't know the other dealer's price while you were in the first dealer's showroom.

He got greedy, and lost badly. Unless he's got another buyer coming in soon, he's down $2,500 plus whatever profit the city dealer made. (Even below sticker, there's kickbacks and other ugly things designed to make the real price confusing and hard to learn.)

Re:A Tale of Two Toyotas (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 8 months ago | (#45487791)

TL;DR If you're willing to shop around you'll find that not all dealers are dickholes.

Yep, 99% just give the rest a bad name.

Some car dealers are OK, more often then not they are complete idiots but this, you can use to your advantage.

The thing that car salesmen need to do is make quota for their monthly commissions. Don't make the quota, dont get a commission so to get the best deal you need to find the most desperate salesman at the end of the month. They'll sacrifice all of their commission on the car just to get the sale. Seeing as car salesmen aren't human, I have no problems with this.

Another thing is never be afraid of telling them to F-off. I was once looking at a 350z and the salesscum wouldn't budge on price, so I told him to get stuffed and walked up to the next nearest salesman and said, "Hi, I'm looking at that Nissan over there".

OTOH, I got 30% off the marked price of a used EK Civic with very little negotiation simply because it was the last day of the tax year. The car was bulletproof and when I sold it, I made a few hundred bucks.

Point in short, use car dealers/salesmen and dont feel bad about it, they're doing the same to you.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#45480321)

Yeah, that "no haggle pricing" is BS. you can still haggle and I always do.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (4, Interesting)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | about 8 months ago | (#45480379)

No, the real reason the whole car buying experience is horrific is that there is no competition, by law. Car dealerships have indefinite, irrevocable monopolies in the regions they cover due to historical events that occurred 90 years ago. The real solution is to erase outdated laws, break the monopolies and open the market to real competition.

Here is a podcast about it:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/02/19/172402376/why-buying-a-car-never-changes [npr.org]

Re:This issue was solved years ago (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45480555)

I work at a dealership, didn't watch your video, but there are some reasons it is like this.

Manufactureres want to keep quality control. To do warranty work you have to be certified by the manufacturer. They don't want any yahoo with a socket set doing warranty work or recalls and making things worse for the customer. It hurts the customer experience and their reputation. The manufacturers also can't monitor everyone who wants to do warranty work, or have enough parts in every possible dealership for that work. They plan for extra parts, say 100 fuel pumps in each state, which will meet the demand but if everyone can do it suddenly they need to make 5000 fuel pumps per state so each can keep in their warehouse, but they know only 100 will ever be used, this is even worse for recalls because they will need to take back that extra inventory on parts.

Sales is similar in that they don't want to supply each area with 5x the number of vehicles that will sell in the area and have a glut of extra units that will never sell because everyone wants to sell the new car model.

I will ALSO say we work with one manufacturer that doesn't have those deals and they guy two blocks away can sell the same new vehicles as us. So saying it is based on laws is obviously a lie, its based on what the manufacturers think is best for them. The ones we deal with want to make the best vehicles they can and not deal with selling them or fixing them and leave that to th dealerships.

Tesla, for example, is taking this to the extreme level and only allowing themselves ownership of the dealerships for the reasons stated above.

Just saying its not a black and white issue like people seem to think it is.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (2)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 8 months ago | (#45481687)

Why don't they do what other industries do and just sell the car to the dealer who is the responsible for reselling it to a customer? If the dealers paid for the inventory, they wouldn't buy inventory they couldn't move and the manufacture wouldn't give a shit if the dealer sold the car or it sat on their lot for ten years.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45481911)

They charge warranty work back to the manufacturer. The manufacturer doesn't want to pay for shoddy work that will have to be redone. If they don't have such a deal, the dealership couldn't fix issues with a brand new vehicle because they couldn't charge it back. Would you buy from a dealership that couldn't fix a cracked window from transit to the dealership? You would have to take it to another dealership to have it fixed.

Another factor, most dealerships have vehicles on lot at cost to the manufacturer for 90 days. If they sell it within the 90 days they never "owned" the car, but if it sits for longer than that the dealership has to floorplan the vehicle and pay for it. Manufacturers couldn't afford to have that many vehicles on that many lots when they know not even half of them would sell. Plus dealerships would be stuipid for buying new units their neighbor across the street has plenty of because both would lose on margins to the point it wouldn't be worth it to sell them (I have seen cases of this actually happening in my industry and seeing dealerships close because of it).

And as I said before, there is NO LAW preventing people from doing as you suggest, except you will not be allowed to sell the vehicle as "new" you will have to sell it as "used" with explaniation, and you wouldn't be allowed to do warranty work.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45483105)

His question was why doesn't the entire industry change. Your response "refutes" it by using assumptions about how the industry is without the change.

This is why no one like salesmen of any kind. (Car salesmen are about the only real salesmen left with which the public has to interact)

Re:This issue was solved years ago (2)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#45482339)

Its the business model that manufacturers came up with decades ago. They wanted to push product out of the factory and to independent car lots so as not to have to deal with inventory. Also, many car sales are made based on impulse. Dealers have something shiny on their lot and that will sway some customers. Usually the dumbest and most profitable. The warranty service issue is legitimate, but that could be solved by having authorized service centers operating as independent entities from the dealerships. Sure, some people will be too stupid to select a brand that has a service center in their same state. But this will put the responsibility back on to the manufacturer to support a maintenance network. And some people buy vehicles knowing full well that there is no dealership service center in their area. That's the facts of life in rural areas.

Once one business model is in place, some people are fearful of change. There will inevitably be winners and losers with any change. That's life in the free market.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | about 8 months ago | (#45481539)

No, the real reason the whole car buying experience is horrific is that there is no competition, by law. Car dealerships have indefinite, irrevocable monopolies in the regions they cover due to historical events that occurred 90 years ago.

The only "law" that concerns this is contract law.

The manufacturer has a contract with each dealership not to grant another dealership within X miles the right to sell that brand of car. But X is highly variable, as I can find at least 3 dealerships for each of the major brands within a 25-mile drive, which isn't very far at all to go if you can save even 1% on the price of a new car.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45482411)

No, the real reason the whole car buying experience is horrific is that there is no competition, by law.

That is exactly right. If I want to buy a car, I absolutely must go to the one dealership in town. I cannot possibly go to any of the others right next door to it.

I'll grant you that the various dealerships certainly prefer the situation the way it is, and that there may even be laws about the way car dealerships can operate. But the idea that there is "no competition" is ludicrous. Just because you refuse to go anywhere except Koons Ford, that doesn't mean Carmax does not exist.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45485699)

No, the real reason the whole car buying experience is horrific is that there is no competition, by law.

So, you're saying I was hallucinating when I saved a few thousand by playing the Downtown Spokane Honda dealership off against the Spokane Valley dealership, while letting both parties know I was willing to drive out to the Post Falls dealership if they could offer a better price?

Re:This issue was solved years ago (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about 8 months ago | (#45480843)

Saturn, yep. I bought my first new car from them. Their set $1000 markup on each car (calculated from numerous investigative articles I read) paid for nicer salesmen, follow up after the sale, and general overall customer satisfaction services (they sent me cookies and balloons). It was a refreshing change and part of the reason they were so liked by their customers. Though I must say we have a local Lexus dealership which was pretty close in experience. And I usually will haggle for a hour or two.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 8 months ago | (#45480989)

Never had the opportunity to deal with a Saturn dealership but have been pleased with with the BMW dealership down the road from my work in the past. They are a no haggle place but cash in hand seems to change that. They also don't seem to pull the BS that other dealerships do but it seems that higher end dealerships do offer better service and less dodgy employees. The worst experiences I have had were at the local chain of dealers that run advertisements stating "Buy happy" and one of those small independent used car dealers who are a walking stereotype.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | about 8 months ago | (#45484985)

I talked to Saturn in '97 when I was looking for my first car. The sales person I got was a trainee but very nice, but because she was a trainee (I think) some manager jumped in at the end and put on a pretty high-pressure pitch that really turned me off. Maybe that was an exception, though, based on other comments.

I bought my last car at a CarMax, and the agent there was genuinely low-pressure, which I really appreciated.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45481133)

Some salespeople are so predatory I can't resist sharing bad experiences with the public. My wife and I went to look at a car at a Garcia dealership in Albuquerque and after a quick (no more than 10 minute) test drive, we got back to the dealership and the cars radiator was leaking all over the parking lot. The salesman kept telling us that was no problem and that the car was in great shape. We have a little daughter, we weren't buying it. The salesman insisted we give $500 over to "reserve" the car while we thought about signing our lives away, we declined. I called them a couple days later asking to talk to a manager, here's the transcript:

Me: I think your salesman was trying to sell us a car that had been in an accident.
Manager: The car hasn't been in an accident, it hit something at some point, but wasn't in an accident.
Me: That's the definition of accident. It doesn't matter what it hit, a tree, a car, a building, that's still an accident.
Manager: Good day sir (hangs up)

I called up the BBB, but they couldn't do anything since no money was exchanged. I left some poor reviews on BBB, Google+, wherever I could.
We found out later through the primary dealership for that car that Garcia had tried to get them to review the car under warranty, but they refused due to it being in an accident (i.e. no warranty repair for bad drivers). The only good service I've had with car dealerships has been with CarMax and their no-haggle pricing, or with "specialty dealers" that are more than just some locally owned franchise (i.e. BMW, Infiniti, etc...).

Re: This issue was solved years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45481345)

"Hit something" + "Not an accident" = "Hit something on purpose." That was a murder car you were looking at.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45481285)

Not to mention car dealers are unnecessary as the manufacturer could sell directly to the consumer. But lobbyists in Washington artificially keep them in the market.

They are no better than the workers Unions or Welfare they hate so much, they're hypocrites.

Re:This issue was solved years ago (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 8 months ago | (#45482083)

If one has USAA or a similar insurance company, they usually have a program where one can buy through them and get a vehicle for invoice or invoice a C-note.

This is why car dealers are so deathly afraid of Tesla -- their games and shenanigans just don't fly when one can purchase a car without haggling, lowballing, or dealing with the manager/sales droid shell game.

Of course, if you want to know liars, try buying an RV in the US. In Europe and Australia, any rig will be of decent quality. Here, it is expected that they will be rendered into scrap by water damage if you buy one, unless it is one of a few rare makes and models (Coach House, Livin' Lite, Casita.) With RVs, there is no official MSRP often, it becomes more annoying to buy something.

The real question is... (5, Funny)

zippo01 (688802) | about 8 months ago | (#45480121)

If I shake it real hard will a free car fall out?

Re:The real question is... (2)

rvw (755107) | about 8 months ago | (#45480131)

If I shake it real hard will a free car fall out?

Yeah shake that booty baby!

Re:The real question is... (1)

BarryHaworth (536145) | about 8 months ago | (#45480153)

If I shake it real hard will a free car fall out?

Just don't shake it too hard. Don't want it to fall on top of you.

Re:The real question is... (1)

tinkerton (199273) | about 8 months ago | (#45480617)

And will the dispenser shove the car forward by rotating this large corkscrew device after which the car plummets down from large height into the tray?

Re:The real question is... (3, Informative)

MiniMike (234881) | about 8 months ago | (#45482005)

With my luck the car would get stuck halfway down and I'd have to buy a second car just to get the first one out.

Next, fix your car yourself. (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about 8 months ago | (#45480167)

We fill up ourselves in most gas stations, now we have car vending machines. Next, fix your car yourself in human less garages.

This is really great news.

Re:Next, fix your car yourself. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45480625)

We fill up ourselves in most gas stations, now we have car vending machines. Next, fix your car yourself in human less garages.

This is really great news.

People suck as Bill Hicks pointed out. Making every interaction with other people optional and voluntary is a worthy goal.

Re:Next, fix your car yourself. (3, Interesting)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 8 months ago | (#45481121)

Actually, that used to be possible. There were some shops that rented out bays and tools, and had mechanics on staff to assist if you wanted it. Great for those easy jobs that you get ripped off on, say like brake jobs, $2500 quote for all for wheels for my AMG.. fancy car aside, I did it myself with $1k in parts, rotors are kinda pricey, a jack, and about 2 hours, and most of that time was jacking the car up and down. Would have been nice to have a lift I could have rented, took me 5 min per wheel for parts swap.

However, most of those shops that used that business model in the DC/MD/VA area are no longer in business, so guessing the business model was not profitable. There also used to be some shops that rented out the bays and lifts on weekends when they were closed, but they stopped due to liability issues.

Maybe it will catch on again in the future, but for now.. I'm stuck with jacks and jack stands.. or spend $4k and get a portable half high lift.

Re:Next, fix your car yourself. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45483093)

Rich people problems ...

Won't Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45480197)

Too many states require you to buy from a dealership. Just look at Tesla's pain [slashdot.org] as a shining example of how legislators and lobbyists want to screw the consumer when buying a car.

nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45480337)

Tesla is the company that came to mind when I saw this article. State laws require sales through independent dealerships. Those laws don't say that the 'dealerships' have to have a certain number of employees. I can see it now. There could be a Carvana terminal next to every Tesla store. Each Carvana 'dealership' machine, can have a single, maintenance person given the title of 'car dealer'. Automated parking machines can be very sophisticated. The job losses can be attributed to merely automation, just like bank tellers.

This seems like solving the wrong problem... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 8 months ago | (#45480215)

With some probable exceptions, car salesmen aren't genetically-engineered-dispicable-abhumans or anything, they are just what you get at the pointy end of a system designed to resist non totally-fucked-up market pricing through a mixture of social flimflam, feature obfuscation, mandatory bundling, etc. (Sort of like trying to get an actual 'price' for a nontrivial medical procedure, except that with the car you are usually conscious the entire time, making it less pleasant)

If you aren't trying to fuck around on prices, I'd venture to guess that you'll automagically get at least apathetic salespeople, rather than overtly slimy ones. Actually good ones might require additional management and technique. However, at the same time, it's not as though there aren't dozens of ways to design confusing and abusive web interfaces for inhibiting comparison shopping, pre-filling unhelpful checkboxes, hiding useful things, and generally shoving the user around.

Barring gross incompetence on the part of either the management or the web devs, the experience is going to follow the economics. Are you running a business moving goods you think people will want at clearly stated prices? Your humans or your website will likely be pretty easy to deal with. Are you fucking around with the user? You'll either get slimy pressure-jockeys in person, or an absurdly unhelpful and downright malicious site. The medium is not the message, in this case.

Re:This seems like solving the wrong problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45481577)

Kind off a lost argument, this "Vending Machine" is a copy cat of a European model, I cannot remember which country, and I do not feel like trying to get a citation for it, look it up yourselves.. Anyway, people seem to like this model for selling cars rather then dealing with all the BS to buy a car, the problems that is see are the loans, and these worthless credit scores that pretty much fuck the average Jane/Joe out of any quality loan, and the fact you are not going to get a car any cheaper, the dealer is there to rip you off, if they cut dealers out of the picture people may be surprised to find out how much there vehicle actually is to purchase, if youcan look it up you'll find out exactly (if you bother to do that) what the manufacture is looking to get, compared to the dealer sales price.

Similar to cutting out retail stores and buying direct, numerous costs cut chopped off buying it directly, or even from a warehouse. But that isn't the case, Sony, MS, ect., laughable charge just as much..

Re:This seems like solving the wrong problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45481647)

Very interesting, you can haggle with a salesmen but how do you haggle with a website?

Comparing cars is hard (2)

dargaud (518470) | about 8 months ago | (#45480241)

And the makers don't want to make it easy on you. For instance I was trying to compare the inside volume of minivans. All the makers had sites in Flash with the dimensions and other stats impossible to extract, much less to compare even with other models of the same brand. Had to write them down manually in a spreadsheet. Of course some magazines have nice charts for you but they tend to go for the flashy models and anyway aren't interested to publish specs for anything from the current year or older.

Re:Comparing cars is hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45480331)

So true, which makes me thankful for websites like US News Rankings for Cars and SUV's If you select specific vehicles, then find the link for Interior they list the pertinent information about interior volume in various configurations, whether it is useable space and or who the nearest competitors are or how they stack up against them. Was a great resource in vehicle comparison short of going to the dealers themselves and seeing the car with a tape measure and calculator in hand!

Dealer franchise laws? (2)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 8 months ago | (#45480271)

Traditional car dealerships are owned by wealthy, powerful folks who've managed to preserve their monopoly via lobbying their local and state legislatures to force the auto manufacturers to sell thru the dealer chain. This forced "3 tier" system (a lot like the others many states enforce on commodities which throw off a lot of tax revenue, like alcohol, where a chosen few are granted a limited number of licenses) does nothing to help the consumer -- instead, it limits choice and artificially drives up the price. There's no practical reason for these laws in 2013, yet we still have them. I'm hoping that companies like this one and Tesla manage to disrupt the obsolete, 20th Century business model, but I have my doubts.

Re:Dealer franchise laws? (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 8 months ago | (#45481179)

I disagree somewhat. The laws do not require a dealer chain. Anyone can open a dealership up if you have the funds to do so. That is where the problem lies, dealerships with service centers require significant amounts of money, and in many cases only the wealthy and powerful who own chains can afford to do so.

Laws requiring vehicles be sold through independent dealers suck, and I do not agree with them, but they are there for now.

Re:Dealer franchise laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45481587)

Apparently, it is required in Texas.

http://www.teslamotors.com/advocacy_texas

Re:Dealer franchise laws? (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 8 months ago | (#45481757)

Dealer chain == multiple dealers under the same company name..

I did not say you did not have to be a dealer and could still sell cars, I said you do not have to be part of a chain.

Cars are a commodity (1)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 8 months ago | (#45480287)

This means you can be absolutely ruthless with the price . . . you can get the same thing anywhere else. Do your homework online and find the price that people are actually paying, and call every dealer within 150 miles and ask for their best price. Start playing them against each other, and eventually, one will work with you -- typically towards the end of the quarter when they're all trying to make their number, or at the end of a model year when they have excess inventory. If you don't get exactly what you want from a certain dealer, tell them to pound sand and walk. They prey on most folks' discomfort with the negotiation process -- you need to turn the tables on them and be a little opportunistic, but you can save many thousands if you do so.

Re:Cars are a commodity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45480687)

You can thank the Puritannical "oh noes someone might ingest a substance and ENJOY IT?!!?!" types for the absurd liquor laws. Those ABC laws are created by people who would really rather just go back to Prohibition but begrudgingly understand this isn't going to happen, so they'd rather make the sale of alcohol inconvenient and add pointless procedures and costs to it.

Far as negotiating goes, it can be a lot of fun. There's going to be discomfort because you have two competing interests. The discomfort may as well be the dealer's, after all he's the one who gets paid to do it, let him earn it :-).

Re:Cars are a commodity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45483471)

Far as negotiating goes, it can be a lot of fun.

fuck that noise. no. negotiating is not fun. i just want to pay what everyone else is paying for the exact same fucking product, without argument, deception, and conflict.

Re:Cars are a commodity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45480895)

Mod parent up. It's just the way the game is played, and playing them against each other is the best advice. I did that when I decided I wanted to buy new, and I ended up getting a lower price than I would have otherwise.

Re:Cars are a commodity (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 8 months ago | (#45481119)

Also go in with cash in hand for the amount you are willing to pay for the car, this is more than your initial offer. Let the sales person you know you have cash and if they won't deal walk away. They usually change there tune when you are about 5 feet from the door. When I go to a dealer the only thing the sales person does is goes and fetches the vehicle or vehicles I am interested in as I have already done my research and know what I want to see when I show up so I don't need them to try and pick out a vehicle they think I want.

Re:Cars are a commodity (2)

speedlaw (878924) | about 8 months ago | (#45481137)

The reason for options and such is that so no two cars are alike. There will always be the ones on the lot that don't match whatever you researched on line. (unless you buy to order, rare in the US) so the pricing isn't clear...by design. This poster is on, though. When you go car shopping, do it at the end of the month, on a bad weather day, and fully expect to spend at least an hour, maybe two, in each dealership. If you go in expecting this to take way longer than it should, you have negated the time factor they play on. Make sure you have financing aligned already, and that there is no trade in deal to confuse things.

Re:Cars are a commodity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45481731)

unless you buy to order, rare in the US

Really? In Europe that is more or less standard nowadays.

Re:Cars are a commodity (1)

speedlaw (878924) | about 8 months ago | (#45483581)

Oh yes, a cultural difference. I'm advised by my German relatives that you save up for the new car then pay cash at purchase, compared to seeing what is on the lot and what the bank will allow for 72 months. In a nutshell this is why in the US a typical BMW is a honda clone...no manuals, no sport packages, etc. You get leather and premium package, or stripper....no sport oriented cars. Order and wait.

Re:Cars are a commodity (1)

ImprovOmega (744717) | about 8 months ago | (#45482931)

There are several websites that detail not only dealer invoice pricing, but also addon invoice pricing. Knowing what the dealer paid gives you a major advantage in the negotiation, and you can compute exactly how much they're trying to screw you and how much you're willing to put up with. Some places, especially in the major cities where there's competition, will actually be pretty reasonable about this.

Re:Cars are a commodity (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 8 months ago | (#45482723)

Mod up for truthiness!
I worked for a used car lot and their business works similarly.

Buy the way they buy from each other (dealers sell used vehicles back and forth directly and at dealer auctions). Know your product, decide what it's worth to you, and don't buy out of lust.

Also, unless you are rich, avoid new vehicles and instead buy clean private party vehicles you first have inspected elsewhere. Letting someone else eat the depreciation is a great tactic.

Re:Cars are a commodity (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | about 8 months ago | (#45483167)

I've always been a good car buyer and trying to buy "cream puffs" that are about 4-6 years old, so that the hardest hit of the depreciation has already been priced into the car.

However, that's getting harder these days as used car prices are through the roof. When I was shopping for my last car (~$35k), the market price I was seeing for a 3-year-old model with 30k miles was only $2000 less than a new one - even for a private party sale without the dealer markup. So it's making less and less sense to buy used, especially with the aggressive financing deals for new models.

Big Deal. Germany already has one (2)

jittles (1613415) | about 8 months ago | (#45480507)

Go to Wolfsburg, Germany and you can see twin towers that do the same thing. I didn't buy a car there, I only visited, so I don't know all the details. My understanding is that you go there, pick out the car you want, and then you go to the tower and watch the robot pick it up and deliver it like a coke in a vending machine. I watched it serve up a few cars. It's pretty cool.

Re:Big Deal. Germany already has one (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45486603)

I believe it works differently: you order your car (whatever color, options... you want) at a local dealership, tell them you want to pick it up at wolfsburg, they tell you when it will be ready, you go there, and you'll be able to pick up your car that will be stored in one of those silos.

My dad was a salesman (1)

p51d007 (656414) | about 8 months ago | (#45480549)

He started in 1967, retired in 1999. He was "old school"...always be polite, always tell the truth, never push anything on the customer. Guess that was why, even though he worked in a small town of less than 6,000 people, he had sales in 47 states! Hawaii, Alaska & Rhode Island were the only three states he didn't have sales in. Most of his business was word of mouth. He never advertised in magazines, newspapers, radio or tv. The dealership he worked for, had ads of course, but none with him, unless it was a group photo. Obviously every car I bought, came from him, but last year, my 13 year old Mustang was needing to go to the car graveyard. I bought a new one, but the experience was unpleasant. The salesman was nice, but the whole, meet the guy on the lot, then get shuffled to the guy inside, then get shuffled to the guy trying to upsale you, to the guy with the financing... This idea of doing EVERYTHING bypassing as many of the pushy people might take off!

Re:My dad was a salesman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45480721)

Sounds like you financed through the dealer. That's a mistake. Get a car loan through a bank first (or better, a credit union). Then go car shopping. Dealers make their real money from inflated financing - more than they ever make from car sales - and they love buyers who didn't come prepared.

Re:My dad was a salesman (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 8 months ago | (#45481231)

Actually, dealers make very little on financing or sales. They make the lions share of their income from service and warranty work.

Think about it, you get the car for the price you want, you have good credit, you get 0% financing, where is the inflated financing aspect. They might get a finders fee from the bank, but that's about it.

But your advice is still valid, going in with a loan approved from your bank or credit union is a great idea since you already know your limits. But at the same time, the dealer will still want to run the numbers, and occasionally come back with better rates and figures. I did this, had a loan approved from my credit union at 3% interest (was for a used car, never going to get 0 rates on those), the dealer came back with 2.75. Sure it is only .25 but that makes quite a different over a long term loan on a $60k car.

Re:My dad was a salesman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45482951)

Why are you buying a $60K *used* car, sticking yourself with paying any interest (2.75% or not), and still worried about the 0.25% difference? How about buying something you can afford up front (there are plenty of perfectly functional cars for much less than $60K, even new...), and saving *several tens of thousands of dollars,* instead of being proud of yourself for saving a whole 0.25% blowing money on an overpriced penis compensator? You don't exactly sound like the paragon of fiscal responsibility anyone should be listening to here.

Re:My dad was a salesman (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | about 8 months ago | (#45483273)

It's true that car dealers make quantitatively less from new car sales (used car sales are much higher margin), but it's not a bad income stream once you realize that they "own" all their cars via leverage.

When they sell a Camry, they don't really pay the full $25,000 invoice (or whatever it is) to have it sit on the lot. They essentially lease it from the manufacturer. So they may be leveraging $500 of their own money or something like that to have the car sit on the lot for, say, 60 days. When the car is sold, the "loan" is paid back with the proceeds from the sale. Let's say the dealer nets $1000 after paying back the loan and after subtracting all the business overhead, they're making $1000 on a $500 investment. That's a pretty decent return. Even if the dealer only nets $250 from the sale, it's still a 50% return.

Think about this next time you feel sorry about how the dealer's not making money off new car sales.

only used cars? and not cheaper (1)

alen (225700) | about 8 months ago | (#45480659)

first they seem to only sell used cars
and a quick check of honda acords,their prices aren't cheap. $20,000 for a 2012 model. and the cheap one at that with no options

the prices at the dealers are the same and i can trade my old car with them at the same time

Re:only used cars? and not cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45483511)

You didn't see the coin slot on the vending machine? You just drop old used cars into it for trade-in credit on the spot.

I HATE shopping for cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45480731)

Having to bargain for the price sucks ass. Bought a new car once and will never do it again. I like getting a new car but the buying process sucks.

when car brakes after falling in Vending machine (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 8 months ago | (#45480869)

when car brakes after falling in Vending machine you own it and must pay costs to get it fixed. No refunds as well.

Re:when car brakes after falling in Vending machin (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#45481181)

when car brakes after falling in Vending machine you own it and must pay costs to get it fixed. No refunds as well.

What if the machine breaks the brakes before the brake can break the brakes?

Re:when car brakes after falling in Vending machin (1)

MiniMike (234881) | about 8 months ago | (#45481985)

That would be a tough break.

Re:when car brakes after falling in Vending machin (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 8 months ago | (#45481233)

If a car brakes will falling in a vending machine, it will be fine as the brakes performed as intended... Now if the car breaks, that's a different story :)

Vending machine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45481007)

If it doesn't deliver the merchandise immediately after payment, it's not a vending machine but a website.

These "vending machines" already exist, in a way (1)

billscott122 (933400) | about 8 months ago | (#45481149)

My wife and I just bought a used current-year model from Enterprise, the rental car people, and did most of the work at home on my computer. Found the models we were interested in, the price and mileage, and then went to the dealership, about a mile from home. And they were willing to go to other Enterprise dealers, 20-30 miles from here, at no charge, to get a model for me to look at, with no pressure on me to buy it once I'd seen it. They had many models to choose from, and there was no pressure to buy. And they have the same 7-day return policy. If you don't need a brand new car, this is the way to shop! We had the car at home less than 6 hours after we first left to shop.

Re:These "vending machines" already exist, in a wa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45481579)

Having seen how some of my friends treat rentals, I'd want to get a seriously good deal on a used one.

So what stops trolls from scheduling test drives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45481637)

I wonder how many cigarettes you can smoke and how many holes you can burn in the upholstery on a test drive.

WANT (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 8 months ago | (#45481659)

Misread headline as "Car Railgun Launching First Car"

Old ranking (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about 8 months ago | (#45482167)

No way they're rated below politicians. Must be a really old survey.

Till they get outlawd by some "dealer association" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45482181)

Look at the trouble Tesla has trying to sell cars in Texas, thanks to bizarre unconstitutional laws paid for by a Texas car dealer "association". The dealers' lobbies will fight this thing HARD if it seems to work...

Caveat (1)

Pirulo (621010) | about 8 months ago | (#45482279)

it will be programmed by car salesmen

Prior Art (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 8 months ago | (#45482659)

Eh, I liked this version [shifteast.com] .

I have discovered the solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45485641)

to car salesmen as well as car related grievances in general:

I moved to Japan, got a bicycle, and decided that I'd never buy a car for the rest of my life.

Cars are nothing but a status symbol in any country with decent infrastructure. If my children want one, they can get one when they're 20. But until then, we're riding the much more pleasant bullet train when traveling as a family.

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