Mitsubishi Says Fine, Whatever, We Want To Sell Cars Online, Too

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Photo: Mitsubishi

Along with its Outlander unveiling, Mitsubishi announced an online showroom it calls ClickShop. Developed with the help of retail partner Motoinsight, the virtual sales point is claimed to make buying a new Mitsubishi as simple as “click, click, car.

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It’s catchy, but it’s not quite as simple as Mitsubishi is making out here.

It’s less “click, click, car,” and more, “click, click, drive to dealer, car.” Mitsubishi’s announcement goes into detail describing a system closer to car research rather than car buying:

ClickShop was designed with the modern customer in mind and in partnership with the leading digital retailing solutions provider, Motoinsight. [...] This allows customers to see the full picture of inventory in their area, right from their phone, tablet or laptop. Customers are also not required to submit their contact information to unlock deals.

The greatest thing about ClickShop is that you don’t need to submit your contact info to get far along in the process. You can specify models and/or trims to dial in the exact car you are looking for, and if a local Mitsu dealer has it in stock you can click through the steps and see your options for a lease, financing or a cash sale.

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Screenshot: Mitsubishi
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Screenshot: Mitsubishi

Of course, there might not be any of the 330 (count em!) Mitsubishi dealers in the U.S. near you, in which case ClickShop can’t really help because, well, you’re going to have to go to a Mitsubishi dealer at some point. And that’s where this system falls short. It claims to be an online sales system, but it’s more like an online inventory system.

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To be fair to Mitsubishi, I id click around and the system is not half bad. I set a few filters, looked at the inventory of my two local Mitsu dealers (what a brag, I know) and was able to compare models down to color, spec, transmission type and pricing.

The information is laid out in readable terms and the interface is good. There are filters and tabs for different options, and you get the sense that actually inputting a few details could easily get you into a Mitsubishi without so much as having to talk to a car salesman. Hell, you could do it in your COVID-casual sweatpants. But you eventually hit the dreaded “Contact Dealer” prompt:

Illustration for article titled Mitsubishi Says Fine, Whatever, We Want To Sell Cars Online, Too
Screenshot: Mitsubishi
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The ClickShop feels like it’s almost there in terms of making the online sales experience complete, so I don’t know what the holdup is. I suspect it’s something to do with the dealers. It’s going to be a hard conversation between carmakers and dealers, but it seems that car sales are inching their way toward online models. Carmakers, salesman and drivers will all have to reckon with this sooner or later.

Staff Writer at Jalopnik. Periodista automotriz, Naturally Aspirated Stan.

DISCUSSION

Honest question for everyone - do we just want dealers exterminated from the planet? I work in a sector of the auto indistry that works closely with dealerships. The entire industry is moving mountains and scrambling to adjust to a changing market while their manufacturer partners of decades are shifting to just skipping them entirely.

I understand why dealerships are a pain in the ass, but I just rescued my brother from almost buying a 2012 Civic for 16 grand off of Carvana. The direct consumer digital model is appealing, but I also envision a long game in which negotiation and variability in car prices just disappears in the name of convenience and the ability to buy everything with 4 clicks and as little effort as possible, even though it’s the second largest single object most people will purchase in their lifetimes with years of debt attached.

Do we really want to cheer on some of the largest companies on the planet directly undercutting their retail partners of decades because they recognize an opportunity to exploit the market? Very similar to how movie studios are currently savaging and starving their former distribution partners, movie theaters. When is this ever actually good in the long run for consumers?