The Toyota 86 has been available in Australia for a little over a month now. I’ve even seen a few of them on the streets here in Slow-bart, which is something. Sales of the Subaru BRZ, however, got underway today and Subaru has elected to sell them online.
You can’t walk into a dealership and place and order. The dealer will gladly offer you a comfortable seat and a coffee, but most likely that would only be so that you could use his/her computer to order it online (and probably only if you promise to nominate them as the preferred delivery dealership).
Whilst Toyota went for a two-pronged model line around $30K and $35K plus ORC, Subaru has limited its range to one model only, selling at $37,150 driveaway (with 3 years service).
Subaru have just 201 BRZ’s to sell in Australia this year and 50 of them were sold within the first 90 minutes of their sales site going online today. It might have been more if the site could have handled the spike in traffic, but it crashed soon after going live and the ‘buy’ button wouldn’t appear.
UPDATE: Apparently all 201 sold within three hours. On Day 1.
I’m very, very excited by the experiment from Subaru and I bet a lot of other manufacturers are watching as well.
From my own perspective, online sales was an idea that I was developing in my own head when I started working at Saab last year. In my mind, people could still go to a dealership to view or test drive a car, but they would then have the option of buying it online and like Subaru, nominating a dealer of choice for delivery and service.
I’m not sure how this would work in a mixed setting, with both dealer and online sales. It would most likely have to be part of a fixed price sales model, something that might not go down so well in some markets.
Buyers could still buy a car off the lot straight away if their desired configuration was on site. Haggling would be between the customer and the dealer as the dealer would have already bought the car from the factory (as they do now).
Some people don’t like the pressured environment involved with some sales experiences. I’m sure they’d be open to being able to configure, select and buy their car completely online, dealing only with the salesman at pickup time.
From the manufacturer’s perspective, this could be an interesting addition to the sales funnel that might mean greater margins for them and a new dealership model for the future. There are a lot of thins you can buy online today. Why not cars as well?
Subaru seem to have tripped with the infrastructure around the process on the first day, but hopefully they’ll get the resources sorted quickly and it’ll be interesting to see the feedback they receive.
Online sales for motor cars. Would you be into it?
Speaking of the Toyobaru twins, here’s an absolutely sensational road test video of the Toyota GT86 in its European configuration. What makes this video so good isn’t limited to the photography, the roads and the facts you learn along the way. This video is extra-interesting because the guy testing the car currently owns a Toyota AE86 as a weekend trackday car. For him, this is personal.
It’s 20 minutes long, so make sure you’ve got some time to spare. I think you’ll enjoy it, however.