Question Of The Day: Would It Be Better To Test Drive A New Car… Without The Dealership?


Imagine more than 500 cars at your disposal and you choose the ones you want to test on the open road.

There are no mind games. No bait and change tactics. Simply go to a computer, determine the most worthy candidates, and let a salaried employee collect the keys and answer questions relevant to his car search.

It sounds too good to be true? Well, it has happened before. There is only one problem.

The place that does this sells mostly used cars, not new cars.


Thanks in part to the sheer hassle of buying a car, Carmax is now the largest automotive retailer in the United States. In fact, they are now larger than the #2 and #3 auto retailers combined. They have managed to do this huge challenge with only a tiny fraction of the storefronts and without the easy access to certain funding sources that help new car dealers move their inventory. This is no small feat given the level of heavy-handed tactics that dealership lobbyists routinely inflict on state legislatures.

The almost universal desire to move away from prejudice and manipulation is a major challenge for millions of new car buyers. Who offers the best car? It’s hard to know when advertising is everywhere and the ability to test drive every new car, without obvious bias in almost every way, is next to impossible.

For consumers who are often entrenched in their online search for a new car, the decision to buy a new car in the 21st century still hits the thick brick wall that is the retail method.

The costs inherent in the Carmax model, for example, still run into the several billion dollars, even though they outsource much of their remanufacturing activities. Between purchasing more than 500,000 vehicles, investing in real estate and physical infrastructure, hiring and training thousands of employees, designing transportation logistics and myriad IT platforms, and finally finding shareholders, Carmax can’t afford to offer the lowest price on a regular basis.

But despite this financial handicap, they still cater to a wide swath of the general public without resorting to inferior forms of sales. People will pay a premium for honesty. If the new car industry were not under legal control, many of the fixed costs of buying a new car would likely disappear. choose your best fit.

All of these sales channels are as common as kudzu these days for everything. but new cars. Fortunately, there are other alternatives; although their presence is usually fleeting.

For example, when many of us go to major car shows, we have the same unique opportunity to see and test drive many new cars. Â The ability to walk into a place and try what’s out there motivates millions of people to spend their money on a show that features things you can normally watch for free. But not under the same roof.

If you headed to the more rural areas of the United States not too long ago, state and county fairs offered people just as much of an opportunity to get out and try out a variety of new sheet metals. Maybe they still do, but I haven’t seen it here in Georgia in quite some time.

Finally, there are car rental agencies, car-sharing programs, and public relations events that allow ordinary people to get a taste of what’s out there outside the new car dealership.

Except sometimes the new car just isn’t what you want, and when it comes to rental cars in particular, the vehicle may be too worn to be new.

This brings me to the big question. If there was a place where you could try driving a new car, any new car, every new car, would you go? I’m sure you’d let me take a swing at that equation. Would you be willing to pay $20 for the ability to drive whatever you want for an entire day? Let’s take short trips. Less than 10 miles. But as many cars as you want without being on all fours and stuck in a miserable cabin for hours.

Think of it like a car show that never ends. Would it be worth $20 to determine which car will be your next car?

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