Driving For Choice

It comes as no surprise that yet another automobile manufacturer is facing financial difficulty and must now rely on significant restructuring to stay afloat. These difficulties are endemic to a sales channel that advertises choice only within the confines of a virtualized monopoly.

Our last car shopping expedition had us driving all over town to view the offerings from a variety of automobile manufacturers. Each dealer offers cars from a single manufacturer, so it is virtually impossible to compare a Toyota to a GM, or a VW to a BMW. While many car dealerships are in close proximity, there is no single dealership where you can review a number of models from different manufacturers in one place.

So it is not possible to compare directly the Toyota Camry with the Chevrolet Malibu. This would make shopping so much easier, if it were possible to have both vehicles side-by-side and to test drive them in the same location under the same conditions then a consumer would be able to arrive at a decision without the bias of the dealership or the sales personnel.

Is an electronics store restricted to selling merchandise from only a single vendor? Imagine if your local Circuit City could only carry Toshiba and Best Buy could only carry Sony, if you wanted to choose between a Toshiba or a Sony television you would have to choose between one store or the other. What if you want a Toshiba but you prefer the service and support offered by Best Buy? Even worse, if you want a Panasonic and the nearest dealer is 1 hour away and they don’t deliver.

Cars are certainly different from TV’s, but many of the same rules apply. You want good service and support after you choose your vehicle, and this should be something you don’t have to go out of your way to get to.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pick your car dealer first and then find whatever car you want at that dealer? If the big three American automobile manufacturers have an ounce of sense between them, they should consider merging dealership space and provide car buyers the option to go to a single location and shop for Ford, GM and Chrysler.