With home delivery: how Coronavirus revived car sales online

A drone delivering car keys to a customer’s address is not a fantasy, but a new reality. The coronavirus epidemic has awakened interest in online car sales, allowing you to do without visiting the dealer center.

The key is airborne.

Chinese Geely was the first to switch to remote car sales back in early February when the epidemic was in full swing. A buyer registered on an online platform could select a car, arrange credit and insurance without leaving home.

Eventually, the carefully disinfected car was delivered right to his doorstep. Geely did not stop there and made the delivery completely contactless: a special drone brings the key to the buyer’s door or directly to the balcony. Thus, direct contact with people when purchasing the car is excluded in principle.

The Chinese authorities have announced that the spread of the COVID-19 virus within China has “generally stopped”. Most car factories and dealerships have resumed operations, but the flow of buyers is still low.

Tesla on a tow truck

Contactless buying and delivery were launched by Tesla, once again confirming the title of one of the most advanced car manufacturers. And besides China, this service is offered in 13 states of the USA.

There are several delivery options. Tesla Direct Drop means selecting and filling in documents online. The electric car is delivered by a tow truck and the new owner opens it with a smartphone. The documents lying inside will need to be sent by mail to complete the transaction.

According to the Express Delivery option, a customer arrives at one of the delivery points and a mobile application brings him/her to the selected car. He passes all the necessary documents to the employee of the company when leaving the parking lot. There is also a variant of Tesla Direct when together with the electric car on a tow truck comes an employee who helps to fill out the documents and understand the functions of “Tesla”.

The American car industry has long hoped to replicate the success of online retail giants such as Amazon. General Motors launched the Shop-Click-Drive online sales program back in 2013, but Americans have traditionally preferred to choose and buy a car in the showroom. Some success was achieved only by the American company Carvana, which sells 2% of all used cars in the United States through the Internet.

Everything changed when a state of emergency was declared in the United States in March, forcing millions of Americans to sit at home. For dealers and carmakers selling online, this was a chance to make a difference. Some dealers are ready to take the car for maintenance itself and bring it back to the owner.

GM decided to expand its Shop-Click-Drive to more dealerships, noting that the number of customers making purchases for new and used Chevrolet cars through the site has increased by one-third since mid-March.

AutoNation, the largest U.S. dealer network, is accelerating the deployment of its new Store-to-Door service – home delivery of a car purchased online. The company began testing this service last year.