You’d probably be hard-pressed to name an area of public life the pandemic hasn’t touched. From the way we buy groceries to how we work, COVID-19 has made us reliant on online technology. In early 2020, many businesses had to ramp up online ordering and delivery systems. But two years later, as the Omicron variant ebbs, consumer demand for online shopping platforms remains high. And General Motors is getting in on the action with its own used-car-buying site.
Why consumers are buying cars online
Even though Omicron seems to have peaked, many consumers still want to buy cars online. That was unheard of a couple of decades ago, but it’s far more common now. Even before the pandemic, many automakers were beefing up their websites, allowing consumers to customize models online before heading to the dealership to pick them up.
But at the onset of the pandemic, with auto dealerships not being declared essential services in most states, dealers and manufacturers had to devise alternative ways to sell cars. Many dealers began using videoconferencing tools to hold sales meetings with consumers and secure document portals to handle the paperwork. Dealers even began to deliver vehicles to shoppers’ homes after purchase or for test drives.
And despite many sectors returning to business almost as usual, consumers have grown accustomed to online shopping. Car dealers have also continually refined their online sales process, making it increasingly easy for consumers to buy online. Now, not everyone is ready to skip a visit to the local dealership when they buy their next car. But more are doing so now than before, encouraged by positive online car-buying experiences during the pandemic.
What is General Motors’ CarBravo?
To cash in on this growing consumer preference, General Motors recently announced the launch of CarBravo. Beginning in spring 2022, consumers can use CarBravo’s online sales website to shop for used vehicles at GM dealerships nationwide. All used cars sold through CarBravo will be inspected and repaired as needed to meet GM’s quality standards. Vehicle history reports will also be available through the site.
If you’re looking to buy your car entirely online, you might be able to do so through CarBravo, depending upon where you live. GM is working with local dealers who already offer home test drives and home delivery to ensure they can sell their used car inventory through the website and offer CarBravo’s used-car buyers these services as well.
CarBravo can also help you sell your vehicle even if you don’t buy a used car through the site. After uploading your vehicle info, photos, and other documentation, you’ll receive a guaranteed purchase price from CarBravo based on Black Book values.
Will GM succeed with CarBravo?
General Motors is far from the first automaker to offer direct-to-consumer online sales. Nor is it the only company selling used cars online. Several brands make their money selling cars partially or fully online. Some of the best-known are Carvana, CarMax, Autotrader, Vroom, and TrueCar.
Carvana is not only one of the most familiar names in this space, but it is also the fastest-growing online used-car retailer in the nation. The Arizona-based company sells its inventory through multi-story glass buildings that resemble vending machines. It also buys used cars from consumers. According to The Wall Street Journal, Carvana saw considerable sales increases early in the pandemic because of its ability to provide touchless delivery.
Another popular online car retailer is Vroom. Based in New York City, Vroom is known for selling cars, handling financing, and buying vehicles from customers, all in seamless online operations. Companies such as Carvana and Vroom were well established before the pandemic and will provide CarBravo with stiff competition.
However, CarBravo benefits from GM’s extensive nationwide inventory to sell, vast dealer network to distribute, and GM Financial to issue auto loans. Car and Driver recently reported that General Motors would continue its policy of no longer allowing formerly leased vehicles to be sold outside the GM network, which should boost its inventory.
Though it remains to be seen how well CarBravo will perform, GM is likely making a wise decision to tap into consumers’ growing preference for online car buying.