Would You Buy A Car Online?

Illustration for article titled Would You Buy A Car Online?
Photo: Volvo

Online car sales are growing, though they still make up an extremely small percentage of sales. OEMs like Tesla and Volvo have adopted online sales models and you can buy used cars from apps like Vroom or Carvana. That makes me think, is there a reason for the physical car dealership anymore? Would you skip the dealer and buy online?


I’ve purchased a couple of new Smarts from Mercedes-Benz dealerships over the years. Both of my experiences were extremely positive but even back then I had this thought in the back of my mind: There was not a single thing that the sales staff did that a well-designed app couldn’t.

One of the few things having a live staff did offer me was friendliness. They were as welcoming as if I was meeting up with a pack of old friends. Of course, they were eager to take my money and, as we’ve recently seen with stories of people being detained by dealerships, clearly that experience isn’t universal. An app cannot detain you. An app cannot damage your trade-in or commit a crime against you. Apps also won’t keep you in a boring dealership reeking of old popcorn, stale coffee and desperation for an entire day of your life.

For this Question Of The Day we’re going to do things slightly differently and leave a poll down here at the bottom.

Would you skip the dealer and buy online? Do we need dealerships anymore? Put your vote in the form and drop a comment below as to why!

Staff Writer at Jalopnik and learning pilot. Loves all vehicles! Smart Fortwo (x4), Honda Beat, Suzuki Every, AmTran Bus, VW Jetta TDI (x2), Audi TT, Buell Lightning, Triumph Tiger, Genuine Stella...


I’ve never understood how people hate the dealership experience so much that they’d rather buy a 5 or 6 figure purchase sight unseen than spend a couple hours in a somewhat unpleasant situation.

OK, maybe if I was buying a new car every 6 months. But the irrational loathing of dealership employees (hint: just be direct and upfront about what you want, don’t want, and what you will pay) that you might encounter once every 3-5 years is baffling.