Renault, Dacia expanding into online car sales

The Renault and Dacia brands plan to aggressively expand their online car sales, taking advantage of a trend in vehicle retailing that is expected to grow rapidly this decade. The Dacia Store and Renault Retail Group online shopping portals could be available to customers in all European markets by the end of 2014, the automakers said.

Other automakers that are offering online sales include Ford in the UK as well niche brands Tesla and Fisker.

The Renault Retail Group’s service lets car buyers configure, price and make a down payment online for both Renault and Dacia models.

Analysts at Frost & Sullivan say that car companies will increasingly use the Web to market and sell their cars. Globally about 4 percent – roughly 4.5 million vehicles – could be sold completely online by 2020, Frost & Sullivan forecasts, up from about 5,000 Web sales in 2011.

While the purchase process is different, Renault says that customers must still pick up their cars at the dealerships.

This on the surface looks like a great idea, but what many are failing to address is the role the car dealer plays in the process and how valuable his presence in that process is to you as a customer.

When you purchase a car online direct from the manufacturer, even though you may pick the car up at your local dealer, that dealer is not responsible for servicing or repairing the car either in or out of warranty.  The seller in such a transaction is responsible for that, in this case the manufacturer only.

When you purchase through a dealer he has not only a moral obligation but a legal one to service your vehicle.

If you purchase a car from the company directly, and it has problems that can not be resolved easily, the dealer servicing the car may walk away from servicing your car because it will hurt his CSI (customer service index) rating and thus reduce his compensation from the manufacturer on other warranty claims. Should the customer become frustrated and hard to deal with on car repairs the dealer can say no more…contact the manufacturer.

I have seen these situations arise on both sides of the equation, as a member of the dealer service department and as a customer. Consider the difficulty of a mechanic finding a pinched wire on a car with an intermittent problem. Or a new model that has design flaws. This happens far more frequently than mainstream media would have you know.

Consider also, IF the dealer walks away, other dealers may do the same, then who is going to repair your car under warranty? The manufacturer?, No he has no direct repair facilities.

Please read the complete article here including others comments as this is something very important you should consider if you wish to bypass the dealer.