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Toyota Following Tesla’s Lead, Trying Out Direct Online Sales

Following what I’m guessing will probably be a strong trend in the coming years, Toyota will soon begin testing out a new online sales system that will allow buyers to completely bypass the car dealership “experience.”

Rather than being subjected to the slow torture of spending a few hours being set up and (potentially) ripped off by car salesmen, one will simply be able to log in to the new web-based system, pick a vehicle, arrange for financing, and then set up a delivery location.



Unfortunately, for the time being, the system is limited to the relatively small Scion brand, but presuming that all goes well, this approach will be expanded in the future to the Toyota and Lexus brands. Considering the success that Tesla Motors has had with a similar approach to date, one imagines that larger established auto manufacturers will have an easy time making it work for them.

“People want to spend less time in the dealership,” stated Doug Murtha, the Toyota Vice President that runs Scion. As the process of buying a vehicle on a lot can take as long as 4 hours, there’s clearly some room for improvement there.

“We’re shooting for an hour,” Murtha noted, in a recent interview.

Here’s more from that:

Scion has been testing the system, called Pure Process Plus, for a couple of years. About 60 dealerships across the country are using it now. The process should be available nationally in the first half of next year. You can find out what dealerships are using it through the dealer locator at Scion has sold a few hundred cars through the system.

Toyota created Scion in part to test new ways of doing things to figure out what the bigger Toyota and Lexus brands should try. If Pure Process Plus takes off, it’ll be the little brand’s biggest contribution to the huge automaker.

At participating dealers — and all 1,000 Scion dealers next year — a buyer can go online, pick a specific car, get a no-haggle price, get approved for a loan from Toyota’s finance arm, see what Kelley Blue Book says they’ll get in trade for their current car, agree on the purchase, even arrange to have the car delivered to them.

Of course, this option won’t be available to consumers in Michigan (amongst other places) because the car dealership associations there seem to have an uncanny ability to get local laws to bend the way they want them to. Instead Michigan buyers will be forced to go into a dealership to complete the sales process.

Here’s to hoping that this trend towards direct sales continues to pick up steam over the coming years!

(Tip of the hat to “robaross” on the Tesla Motors Club forum for the heads up.)

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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.


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