General Motors highlights a socially distant, germ-free way of buying a car

With a large chunk of the American population locked down or social distancing, car companies and the dealerships that represent them need to think well outside the box to stay afloat. General Motors is highlighting Shop Click Drive, its previously little-known online sales program, to give buyers an alternative to brick-and-mortar stores.

Shop Click Drive isn’t new, General Motors launched it in 2013, but its target audience is changing dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic. Seven years ago, the carmaker explained it expected buyers who are “turned off by the dealership experience” (mostly millennials) would be its primary users; they’re the motorists who hate haggling, who don’t like pressure, and who want to buy a car like they buy a video game on Amazon. Fast forward to 2020, and it’s become a way for motorists of all ages to shop for a vehicle while staying mostly socially distant.

The online buying process is as simple as General Motors can make it. After entering their city, state, or zip code, shoppers need to set a distance limit and select the brand they are interested in. Shop Click Drive only shows late-model vehicles made by Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac; don’t expect to find an older Pontiac or a Hummer.

The interface then shows participating dealers in the selected region with new and used cars in their online inventory. Shoppers select a vehicle, estimate the value of their trade-in if applicable, apply for credit, and finalize the deal. They still need to visit a dealership to sign the final paperwork and pick up the car. Digital Trends has reached out to General Motors to ask if delivery is available, and we’ll update this story if we learn more.

Tesla sells a big percentage of its cars online, but General Motors and most of its rivals still rely heavily on brick-and-mortar stores. Stay-at-home orders and lockdowns will force shoppers to rethink their buying habits, just like canceling the 2020 Geneva auto show forced carmakers to rethink the way to unveil new models, and it’s reasonable to assume the popularity of online car shopping — especially if it’s app-based — will surge in the coming months.

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