Between dealerships and private party sales, nearly 40 million used cars change hands every year. But until now, most of those agreements have taken shape due to a well-placed Craigslist ad, a notice in the newspaper, or a visit to the lot. Startups like Vroom and Joydrive want to change that with their modern approaches to the car-buying experience.
Today’s consumer seems a bit more willing to embrace less traditional transportation methods. After all, Bloomberg reports that electric vehicles are poised to make up 54% of all new car sales worldwide by 2040. Convenience is still important — which has made it tough for EVs to become more widespread here — but being conventional is much less so. There are now automated car vending machines, thanks to Carvana, and there’s been a lot of talk about self-driving vehicles and how (or if) they might impact the way we travel. Now, a couple of key companies are trying to change the way we actually purchase our vehicles.
Joydrive, a Seattle-based startup launched by a former photographer, doesn’t want to eliminate the car dealer. Rather, the company wants to work with car dealers to embrace a more digitally inclined method of selling vehicles. Their entire car-buying process can actually be completed online through a user-friendly dashboard. They even have home delivery options and offer vehicle trade-ins, with a five-day grace period to test drive the vehicle and return it if necessary.
Founder Hunter Gorham likens the shift to how Netflix replaced the Blockbuster experience; consumers still wanted access to all the variety but didn’t want to leave their homes to get what they wanted. Joydrive allows you to view the variety of vehicles from local dealers and purchase a car without ever getting up off the couch until it arrives at your door.
Joydrive isn’t the only online car-buying platform around. Vroom, which has been around for a few years now, offers a similar experience — but instead of partnering with local dealers, Vroom owns all its inventory outright. It’s essentially the Amazon of high-end, used vehicles. The company recently went through a major rebranding to show its quirkier side. Instead of being cheesy or sleazy — the words many of us associate with used car salespeople — the result is funny and endearing. That’s no small feat for any car company, even one that specializes in luxury brands.
It isn’t likely that the traditional dealership will disappear anytime soon — particularly if digital sales companies intend on bringing them into the equation. But for those of us who hate unnecessary social interaction or feel incredibly anxious just thinking about talking numbers in a dealer’s office, these platforms might be extremely enticing. Especially if you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas to get some fancy new wheels.
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