While you can now purchase pretty much anything online, from groceries to home cinema systems, the car industry has lagged behind, with a limited number of options available.
But with consumers increasingly confident about buying online, and with some dealers seeing a huge increase in online users and out of hours enquires, Volvo feels the time is right to launch a complete, end-to-end, vehicle purchasing service.
It may not be the first company to offer the ability to buy a car completely online, with rival brands like Tesla offering this already, but Volvo believes its new premium service will be the most comprehensive, especially as it will offer a guaranteed part-exchange price and all finance options.
How does it work?
Rather than being in competition with Volvo's dealer network, the new online service works with its retailers. So, once you’ve created an account, you can find your nearest dealer, and this is who you’ll carry out the transaction with.
With the retailer selected, you then choose your preferred finance option; while you can pay cash, 91% of Volvos are purchased with some kind of finance.
Once this is selected, it’s on to the valuation of your part exchange (if you have one). Along with entering you license plate, there’s a range of other details to enter, including the car's condition and the amount of miles you do annually. This last bit is important, as should you order a car direct from the factory rather than retailer stock you could have to wait a few months, so the price is automatically adjusted depending on the lead time.
It’s then time to configure your car, from powertrain and color choices, to equipment options and even accessories. As changes are made and options selected, the price is updated (including the monthly amount if you’re financing the car).
Once you’re happy with the spec and price of your new Volvo, you can reserve the car and apply for finance. Volvo says the whole process can take as little as 20 minutes, but it expects most users to want to speak with their local dealer at some point; the system has been designed so that it can be started in the showroom and finished at home, or vice versa.
In fact, Volvo expects many potential buyers will still want to touch, sit in and test-drive the car, so a physical showroom presence is important.
The service is now live in the UK – it's initially only available for the Volvo XC40, with other models becoming available on May 3. If the service is a success – and we see no reason why it shouldn’t be – we'd expect Volvo to roll it out in other regions.
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Phil Hall is an experienced writer and editor having worked on some of the largest photography magazines in the UK, and now edit the photography channel of TechRadar, the UK's biggest tech website and one of the largest in the world. He has also worked on numerous commercial projects, including working with manufacturers like Nikon and Fujifilm on bespoke printed and online camera guides, as well as writing technique blogs and copy for the John Lewis Technology guide.