How Technology Has Shifted the Way We Buy Cars

If you’ve been driving for a few decades, you probably have noticed that there’s been a major shift in the auto-buying process. Ultimately, drivers are better informed, and we have the internet to thank for that.

Twenty or thirty years ago, if you walked into the auto dealership, you’d basically be at the mercy of the salesperson. They’d tell you about the car’s safety features and why it’s better than the competition. You believed them because they were the experts. Today, the customer can also be an expert of sorts.

Here are a few ways technology has shifted (and continues to shift) the way we buy cars.

Auto research

In the old days of car buying, people relied heavily on things like word-of-mouth, advertisements, personal experience and reputation when they were deciding on a car to drive. If they were lucky, they’d have an auto mechanic friend to help guide their decision.

In contrast, you can pull up statistics about any make or model within a matter of seconds. You can also read driver reviews and look at professional rankings on sites like Edmunds and Car and Driver.

Not only can you find out which car is best to suit your needs, but you can also research what other consumers in your area are paying with sites like TrueCar. Dealer pricing can be confusing, so it helps to have a bit of information on your side.

Customers can walk into the dealership with so much information that they already know which car is best for their family. Naturally, nothing replaces a test drive, but information is certainly helpful.

Virtual reality

Many automakers have stepped up to include technology in their marketing efforts, welcoming those tech savvy customers with virtual reality. So far, we’re seeing luxury auto manufacturers take on augmented and virtual reality apps to help drum up excitement for their new introductions. Porsche recently launched an app for their Mission E electric sports car while BMW and Hyundai have incorporated augmented reality into their owner’s manuals.

Automotive technology

In addition to changing the way we evaluate vehicles, technology has become one of the important characteristics of a new vehicle purchase. When you’re looking at a car, things like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto may be more important than acceleration speed or interior design.

A vehicle like the Volkswagen Tiguan, with an 8-inch interactive display, turn-by-turn navigation, proximity sensors and available Fender premium auto system, may be just enough to scratch your technology itch. Or something like the 2018 Hyundai Genesis G80 may get your heart pumping. Every G80 comes standard with navigation and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Bottom Line

As technology evolves, so will the car buying process. We can expect consumers to become more informed, automakers to rely on technology in marketing and cars to become “smarter.” Technology is already ingrained in every part of the auto buying process, and it’s best that we continue to use that to our advantage.

Rachel O’Conner is a freelance writer and lover of the road who has written for publications in the travel and health space and is currently working with Volkswagen Atlanta. She enjoys traveling to parts unknown, sampling local cuisines, and sharing her experiences with the world. In her free time, you can find her planning her next trip, running with her dogs, or heading to the closest farmers’ market.

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