Coronavirus and Car Buying- It’s Changing

Business

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Coronavirus crisis has forced car dealers to get creative with their sales, incentives and financing — putting you in the driver’s seat.

Some industry experts will tell you buying a car has never been easier. Interest rates for new cars are at one of the lowest points in 3 years, plus, new and used car dealers are easing off the hard sell, shifting business online and giving you a chance to test a car out at home before you commit.

Vicki Shubert of Mechanicsville is now happy owner of the Audi. Yet, before she ever stepped foot on a car lot in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak she began her search for a vehicle online.

“There is so much information online now,” she said.

That search drove her to CarMax in Richmond.

“We showed up at CarMax and they said ideally you have an appointment because they wanted to space everyone out,” she said. Shubert was immediately impressed with the used car dealer’s pandemic precautions.

“Everyone was wearing a mask,” she said. “There was hand sanitizer everywhere, there was circles on the floor.”

But what really sold her was a chance to take the car home overnight.

“Everyone was wearing a mask,” said one car buyer. “There was hand sanitizer everywhere, there was circles on the floor.”

“The 24-hour test drive option was perfect. It let me bring the car home, live in it, I could put my kids in it, I could get groceries,” Shubert said.

It’s not just CarMax, 8News found more and more dealers in the area will let you try the car out for 24 hours. Yet, CarMax is really pushing the pedal to the metal.

Corey Haire, Vice President of Sales in their East Division says they’re now offering buyers a 30-day money back guarantee.

“It if doesn’t fit in your garage, if it doesn’t handle all your kid’s equipment, we’ll take it back within that 30-day period,” she said.

COVID-19 shutdowns have forced car dealers get crafty. Many have moved on from the dealership to your driveway.

“We can have the salesperson take the vehicle to their home,” said Haywood Hyman with Hyman Bros. Subaru in Chesterfield .

That’s right, he says they’ll bring the test drive to you. And whether, it starts from your driveway or the dealership you ride alone said Tim Cosgrove President and General Manager at Carter Myers Automotive Colonial Honda.

“We are not doing test drives with customers, we haven’t since the pandemic broke out,” Cosgrove said.

Hyman said it’s the same experience at their Subaru dealership.

“We’ll allow customers just to take a vehicle on their own, at their own leisure so they have some space in the vehicle,” he said

Yet even with new safety and cleaning protocols the Coronavirus crisis has shown consumers with a simple click and add to cart they can get anything from groceries to exercise equipment to even a car delivered to their door.

“Buying behaviors have really changed in a lasting way. They are spending a lot more time online, they’re spending less time in stores,” Haire said.

That prompted Carter Myers Automotive which has 15 stores in Virginia to accelerate their online “easy purchase.”

“If you want to start the process you simply hit buy online,” he said.

From a virtual appraisal on your trade-in to the financing buying a car can all be done from the comfort and safety of your home.

“We’ll bring them the car,” added Cosgrove.

Carter Myers has reported home deliveries now make up about a quarter of their sales. 8News also found many other dealers have also revved up they’re online shopping options.

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