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Online Car Shopping Options to Reduce Coronavirus Spread

If there’s one thing the Coronavirus is teaching us, it’s just how much of our daily lives can be managed from home or from a smartphone. Car buying is no different. With or without the headline-grabbing Coronavirus, buying a car online is the wave of the future and it was already headed that way. This doesn’t mean the end of traditional dealerships because consumers have repeatedly told Autotrader that they like going to a dealership to talk to experts and take a test drive — they just don’t want to spend all day there. In fact, many dealers we’ve spoken to are still open for business. Still, there’s no question that online is where cars will be retailed in the future.

Going online is an easy way to do some no-contact car shopping, but what about service and maintenance? Here are some services offering no-contact car maintenance and more on how that works.

Because of the internet, the way people shop for cars has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Thanks to consumer Websites like Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book and increasingly sophisticated dealership websites, consumers are better informed about the vehicles they’re shopping for and more savvy about pricing. On average, it’s a much more-knowledgeable shopper walking onto a dealer’s lot today than 20 years ago.

There are even variations or different “flavors” of digital or virtual car buying. Autotrader lets you start the process from home or work, even applying for financing and valuing your trade-in without ever having to visit a dealership. Cars listed on Autotrader with an “Accelerate” logo are eligible. The ultimate goal is to get you into the car you want quicker and with less time spent doing paperwork at a dealership. You’ll still have to sign the papers in person but, for the most part, you get to do the hard work at home and save the fun stuff for your trip to your local dealer.

In the same way the internet changed the car-shopping experience, it is changing the car-buying experience. Already, a gaggle of new websites offer consumers alternatives to traveling to the dealership to acquire a new ride. Some specialize in used vehicles, while others specialize in new ones, but all have one thing in common: providing the consumer the convenience of changing vehicles without setting foot on a dealer’s lot until delivery, and sometimes not even then.

Subscription Services

Subscription services are to leasing what leasing is to buying a car. Leasing provides consumers with a new car on what is basically a long-term rental base. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but essentially accurate. Using a subscription service is sort of like a lease that provides access to multiple new cars. It’s akin to renting multiple new cars without the hassle of redoing all the paperwork each time a subscriber changes cars.

Care by Volvo

Available nationwide, Care by Volvo is a subscription service for either the Volvo XC50 T5 AWD ($600 per month) or the XC40 T5 AWD R-Design ($700 per month). Unlike Book by Cadillac, Care by Volvo is really a beefed-up 24-month lease allowing an exchange for an updated model after 12 months. There is no down payment. The monthly fee includes insurance, factory-scheduled maintenance, tire/wheel road-hazard protection, roadside assistance and $1,000 excess wear-and-use protection when the vehicle is returned. There is a 15,000-mile allowance annually with a $0.25-per-mile charge for each mile over the allowance. Subscribers take delivery of their chosen Volvo at a franchised dealership.

Porsche Passport

The app-based Porsche Passport is currently available in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego and Toronto. As with the other subscription services described here, Porsche Passport is a turnkey service, providing use of the vehicle, insurance, routine maintenance, roadside assistance and detailing for one monthly subscription fee. Applying for a subscription requires a one-time activation fee of $500 and a background/credit check. The monthly subscription fee amount depends on which of two membership plans a consumer chooses. Providing on-demand access to eight model variants like the 718 Boxster and Cayman S, the Launch plan costs $2,100 per month. Opting for the Accelerate plan boosts the monthly fee to $3,100 and provides access to 22 model variants including the 911 Carrera S and Panamera 4S. There is no limit to the number of flips a subscriber may enjoy. The Porsche Passport Concierge books and delivers the vehicles.

Jeep and Others

If there were an award for best name, it would be Jeep Wave. Named after the cultural phenomenon of Jeep owners waving to each other as they pass on the street, this plan is less like a subscription and more like a VIP program including discounts on merchandise, four free oil changes, free same-day rental and trip interruption insurance should you have a breakdown far from home. Electric automaker Polestar (related to Volvo) plans to offer a subscription-like plan as well. Most of these programs allow you to sign up and do a lot of the shopping and choosing of options online.

There are many reasons to want to shop for and buy a car from the comfort of your home or smartphone. If you’re worried about the Coronavirus or just want to make the most of your time, there are ways you can get the car you want quickly and easily.

Looking for more info relating to you, your next vehicle, and the COVID-19 pandemic?  Check out more of Autotrader’s Coronavirus content.

Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street... Read More about Russ Heaps

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  1. Yeah, car-buying process has changed dramatically. One can not only buy a car online but also get all the info about it, namely accident history, odometer readings, total loss records, mileage rollback, recalls and defects, structural damages etc in a matter of some seconds. As far as I know, FAXVIN reports provide customers with all this data. Hope it will help you!

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