Carvana Who? Asbury Cracks the Code to Car Buying Online in 15 Minutes

It looks like Carvana has some new competition. Those of you new to end-to-end online car buying: Carvana is a used-car retailer that sells vehicles strictly online. It handles many of the normal functions of a physical car dealer. Carvana buys and sells vehicles, accepts trade-ins, and offers financing for vehicle purchases.

Auto retailer Asbury Automotive has upped the ante with the unveiling of Clicklane. This new platform allows users to purchase a vehicle in as little as 15 minutes, including trade-ins, financing, and home delivery. The entire transaction is completed electronically.

So, what’s the difference between these two online car-buying solutions? And who does it better?

Introducing Clicklane

Asbury Automotive debuted Clicklane in early December. It’s “one platform for the entire life cycle of vehicle ownership,” Asbury CEO and president David Hult explained in a company press release. With Clicklane, there’s no need to go offline at any time to interact with a dealership in person, by fax, or by FedEx.

According to Asbury, Clicklane is a communications technology ecosystem that offers a genuine car-buying-and-selling experience in 15 minutes online. Built on a platform developed with the software company Gubagoo, Clicklane allows Asbury to sell its dealerships’ inventory online.

It fills in the gaps

RELATED: What the Heck Is Gubagoo, and How Does It Make Car Buying Easier?

Clicklane offers many features you can’t find with other online car-buying solutions. Asbury’s platform offers what the company calls penny-perfect trade-in values and penny-perfect loan payoffs. The system provides users with real-payment figures based on local fees and taxes. There’s also a loan marketplace including 30 lenders.

The platform also offers VIN-specific finance and insurance opportunities tailored to the buyer and the vehicle. You can arrange for service and have a collision appointment scheduled. You also can sign all the paperwork securely online using DocuSign.

That sounds pretty amazing. But the service isn’t available everywhere just yet. Asbury began by piloting Clicklane at one of its Florida stores. It’s now available at several Asbury-owned dealerships nationwide. The company plans to roll out Clicklane to all of its stores by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

What Clicklane offers that Carvana doesn’t

Asbury’s chief marketing officer, Miran Maric, explained in the company’s introductory presentation that Clicklane isn’t merely a portal to pull in customers to make an appointment at a dealership. “This is real approval,” he said. The platform offers real approval from a captive auto lender. The rates are real, as are the terms and down payment.

According to Asbury, the competition can’t offer a 100 percent online car-buying experience. Clicklane comes complete with an accurate payoff date on existing loans, genuine trade-in offers, and precise price quotes on new cars. And those are numbers based on offers from auto lenders within an online marketplace. All of the required documents and more are embedded in the process.

Hult himself told WardsAuto he had purchased vehicles at competing platforms like Carvana, Lithia, and Vroom. But none of them offered the entire process.

Other issues with online marketplaces include a lack of engagement between buyers and dealers. And many consumers aren’t comfortable buying a car without seeing it in person first.

Clicklane seems to solve both problems. The platform can provide consumers with a full vehicle history, and a chat feature gives them an easy way to reach out to a real person about the model they’re considering.

During its announcement of Clicklane, Asbury also presented its five-year plan. It’ll be interesting to see what else the company has in store for online car buying.