If you think back to the 1980’s and even before, if you bought a car then it was likely to be from within a 10 mile radius of your home. If it was a new car, then there were any number of ‘main’ dealers specialising in the sale of a particular brand. Indeed there were normally a number os smaller ‘satellite’ branches of these dealers also, as demand to have your car dealer on your doorstep was high.
So what has changed? Do we still seek to source our vehicles close to home?
Well on the whole, yes we do, but there have been some changes on how we look to get the best deal possible, and this has lead to a change in the landscape for car dealers.
Buying a Car in 1982
Looking back to my own experiences, as a ten year old being dragged around car showrooms, I can remember thinking to myself just how many showrooms there were to visit.
Where we lived at the time, on the sunny Wirral peninsula, was a population of around 300,000. However, within striking distance of where we lived were 7 Vauxhall dealerships (3 in Chester alone), around the same for Ford, and even 5 Peugeot Dealers, who were not at the level of popularity they are today.
Why the need for so many? Well without the internet, and even the likes of the Autotrader were in their infancy, we were left with the Car supplements in our local newspapers, and the odd national tv advertisement, to discover the deals that could be had from your new car purchase.
This meant much more leg work on the part of the consumer. However, this was countered by the fact you would not have to travel far to get to your nearest dealer.
During the 1990’s, publications such as the Autotrader became the staple diet of the used car buyer, and slowly encouraged people to look slightly further afield for the best value for money.
The effect? by being able to directly compare deals across a larger region, competition on prices began to rise.
Inevitably, dealer margins began to be squeezed. It was not unheard of for a motor dealer to have a 30% margin across a new vehicle, these days it would be nothing like that.
Buying a new car in 2012
Today, the acceptance in everyday life of the internet has lead to a shift in how we look to buy cars. By using the internet as a point of reference, we can soon find the best deals for the model we like.
These deals can be found on specific comparison or review websites. You can even stay up to date through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
This ability to source from far and wide does not just stop at the vehicle purchase either, car insurance can be found on comparison sites with ease, saving valuable time as well as money.
You will find car companies reaching out for customers from far an wide, advertising widely on internet sites, and from other media outlets such as press release sites.
Interestingly though, we do seem to still prefer to buy from a local dealer if possible, with the convenience of not having to travel far clearly an advantage. However, this does not mean we will not go further if necessary, and the overall effect is that we drive a pretty good bargain these days!
The internet is a wonderful thing, especially if you are buying a car!