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Car dealerships adapt to changes in car buying process

By Cameron Kirby, 27 Oct 2016 Car Advice

Tesla Concept store

Traditional dealerships are being replaced by a new way of buying cars.

Buying a car could soon be a very different experience, involving everything from a movie or meal to a blast around a race track.

Different car dealership models that push the customer relations envelope are being explored by manufacturers keen to take advantage of changing urban landscapes and customer expectations.

To start with, there’s the rising trend of manufacturers selling cars in shopping centres.

Tesla often targets high-traffic retail areas not associated with car dealerships, such as Martin Place in Sydney and the Chadstone shopping centre complex in Melbourne.

Tesla Concept Store

That’s something that interests Mercedes-Benz, which early next year will open the world’s eighth “Mercedes me” store in the Rialto building in Melbourne. It will include a high-end restaurant, boardroom, theatrette and an area to display hero cars.

Like similar Mercedes-Benz themed stores in Milan, Munich and Hong Kong, it’s more about lifestyle and branding than making sales.

Infiniti is also getting in on the action, opening a dealership in the Gold Coast’s Pacific Fair shopping centre.

Located amidst high-end retailers, the store is designed to capture consumers in new ways, and has space for three cars inside the shopfront, and six dedicated parking spots for test cars.

Tesla Concept store

Renault is the latest manufacturer to join in, launching a “Brand Concept Store” at Westfield in Sydney’s northern suburb, Hornsby.

Renault Australia considers the store as more a marketing exercise than for selling cars, with shopping centres drawing high amounts of foot traffic.

“Renault believes that purchasing behaviour is changing and the automotive sector needs to keep pace with this change,” Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said.

“People want to engage with brands on their terms and shop as and when they choose, and Renault aims to be at the forefront of these changing trends.

“The Renault Concept Store provides the opportunity for people to check out our range in a relaxed environment.”

With shopping centre storefronts becoming increasingly popular, the way you buy a car in five to 10 years’ time may not involve a traditional dealership at all.