MONEY Autos

Here’s a Good Indication of How Much People Hate Car Dealerships

man in car dealership showroom
Adam Gault—Getty Images

If it were possible and practical, most people would never set foot in a car dealership when purchasing a vehicle.

Accenture surveyed 10,000 people in the U.S. and a handful of other countries about buying cars, and the results show that most consumers aren’t exactly fans of the standard car dealership experience. In fact, three-quarters said that “if given the opportunity, they would consider making their entire car-buying process online, including financing, price negotiation, back office paperwork and home delivery.”

Some cultures are keener on purchasing via the web than others. Overall, the poll showed that Chinese, American, and Brazilian drivers are “more interested in online digital experiences than other countries,” specifically countries in Europe. For instance, 75% of Brazilians and 90% of Chinese would buy a car in an online auction, versus 45% of Germans and just 35% of French.

The survey findings didn’t reveal all that much about why consumers don’t seem to think it’s important to make the big-ticket purchase of an automobile the old-fashioned way, in person at a car dealership. But anyone who has bought a car probably has an idea about why online purchasing is appealing. For many, buying a car at a dealership is too much of a confusing, high-pressure, unreasonably long process. It’s easy to see how it’s preferable to haggle over prices and options and review the fine print at one’s leisure in front of a screen rather than surrounded by salespeople and their “let me talk to the manager” games. After all, a classic negotiation tactic is walking away from the deal on the table, and walking away from an online offer is as simple as ignoring an email.

For another indication of the degree to which consumers don’t like the traditional car-buying experience, check out a recent survey conducted for Autotrader. Of the 4,002 consumers polled, only 17 said they like the current car buying process just as it is. The rest said they “want significant changes, particularly in the test drive, deal structuring, financing paperwork and service phases.” Many said they’d like to see the nitty-gritty of deals conducted online rather than in person. For instance:

Consumers indicate that they would like to see a big change in the way they go about negotiating the deal structure. Of those who liked the idea of online deal building, over half, 56 percent, want the ability to start the negotiation on their own terms—preferably online—and 45 percent would like to remain anonymous until they lock in the deal structure.

And this:

Nearly three fourths of consumers, 72 percent, want to complete the credit application and financing paperwork online. The key factors driving this desire are to save time at the dealership (reported by 72 percent of those who favor online paperwork) and to have less pressure while filling out paperwork (reported by 71 percent of those who favor online paperwork).

There’s no big mystery as to why car dealerships and automakers are reluctant to make online vehicle purchasing more practical and readily available. Doing so would put car sales staffers out of jobs and likely result in lower profits for automakers and dealerships. Let’s not forget that one of the supposed purposes of car dealerships is to provide a place for consumers to kick the tires, test-drive vehicles, and (hopefully) get good insights and advice from employees. A car is a major purchase, and a good car dealership will help steer you in the right direction.

Nonetheless, there’s considerable pressure to change the often-maddening experience—to make it quicker, more transparent, less stressful, and less complicated—and some auto brands are becoming more open to online purchases.

“There aren’t too many things out there anymore that you can’t buy in an online way, and it’s really automotive that’s lagging pretty much every other industry out there,” Doug Murtha, Scion’s brand chief, acknowledged in a recent Bloomberg story about how the Toyota-owned brand is attempting to make car purchasing “Feel More Like Buying an iPad.”

Most customers have been able to use Scion’s new options to buy a car in less than two hours—less than half the usual time suck—and the goal is to get the process chopped down to under an hour. Meanwhile, some Auto Nation dealerships in South Florida have been attempting to make it possible for shoppers to seal the deal on a new or used car in a Domino’s-delivery-like 30 minutes or less, thanks to customers doing much of the browsing and completing of paperwork online in advance.

MONEY Autos

This Crazy Rolls-Royce Will Mean Big Profits for BMW

150413_EM_RollsRoyce
Rolls-Royce

This car might look insane, but it's actually a sign that Rolls-Royce is working on something even more insane: an SUV.

Is it the latest example of Hollywood excess? Some hot rodder’s bizarre fantasy?

It’s neither. That jacked-up, bewinged Rolls-Royce you see in the photo above is actually a rolling testbed for something that is arguably even wackier: the first-ever Rolls-Royce SUV.

That’s an official Rolls-Royce photo. Is it proof Rolls has gone off the deep end?

Yes, Rolls-Royce is developing an SUV

Luxury SUVs are nothing new, of course, and it’s not news that the segment has been booming in the last few years. Premium brands such as Porsche and BMW BMW BAYERISCHE MOTOREN WERKE AG BAMXF -2.08% have profited greatly from “crossover” SUVs that combine some off-road capability with car-like handling.

But it was still a surprise when Rolls-Royce, the 111-year-old maker of stately sedans for very well-heeled clients, announced in February that it is “developing an all-new Rolls-Royce with exceptional presence, elegance and purpose:

• A car that offers the luxury of a Rolls-Royce in a vehicle that can cross any terrain

• A car that meets our customers’ highly mobile, contemporary lifestyle expectations

• A Rolls-Royce that is as much about the pioneering, adventurous spirit of Charles Rolls as it is about Sir Henry Royce’s dedication to engineering and innovation

• A car that appropriately reflects Rolls-Royce’s brand promise of effortless luxury

• A high-bodied car, with an all-new aluminum architecture

• A unique new motor car worthy of carrying the Spirit of Ecstasy into the future

“This new Rolls-Royce,” the announcement continued, “will be Effortless … Everywhere.”

It’s an SUV, in other words, even if Rolls-Royce would rather describe it delicately as a “high-bodied car” that can “cross any terrain.” And the car in the photo above is what Rolls calls an “engineering mule,” a test bed for the all-wheel-drive system and other technologies that will go into the future Rolls SUV.

But why does Rolls-Royce — Rolls-Royce! — want an SUV?

It’s about profits, and something else

Rolls-Royce said, “many discerning customers have urged us to develop this new car — and we have listened.”

That is no doubt true. But it’s also true that Rolls’ corporate parent, BMW, knows full well that there’s an opportunity for an ultra-luxury SUV right now — and that if Rolls doesn’t seize it, its rivals will.

Specifically, the Bentley brand, now owned by BMW rival Volkswagen Group VOLKSWAGEN AG VLKAY -1.73% , is expected later this year to unveil a super-luxury SUV called the Bentayga. But apparently demand is already outstripping supply — even though the Bentayga hasn’t yet been shown.

Bentley Chairman Wolfgang Durheimer told Business Insider that the company will build 3,600 Bentaygas in the first year of production. He said demand already extends far beyond the United States.

This is about more than just jumping into a hot market. For Rolls, a tiny automaker that sold just 4,063 cars last year (a record, by the way), an SUV model offers some diversification, a bit of insurance against a falloff in sales of sedans.

SUV sales can help a small brand get through economic downturns

That’s why Porsche originally developed its Cayenne, after all — as a hedge against the steep ups-and-downs of its core sports car business. Premium sports cars tend to sell very well during good economic times, but are the first purchase eliminated from many buyers’ lists when the economy turns down and it’s time to cut spending.

SUV sales have proven a little more resilient. Even though Rolls-Royce is now owned by deep-pocketed BMW, such resilience surely has some appeal.

But mostly, this new Rolls — which is currently called “Project Cullinan” — will be a ticket to fat profits for Rolls and BMW for as long as this super-luxury-SUV boom lasts.

MONEY Autos

3 Ways to Avoid Costly Rental Car Insurance

airport sign for car rental companies
Chris Rank—Bloomberg via Getty Images

When you rent a car, you will be asked if you want car rental insurance. You might already have it — but it may have gaps. Here's how to figure it out.

I’ve been rear-ended in a rental car by a hit-and-run driver. And on my last business trip, the rental agent almost foisted a car with a scratched-up bumper on me. (Thankfully, I remembered to inspect the vehicle before I left the lot and asked for a different one.) So I know firsthand the importance of making sure you have adequate coverage when you rent a car. Without it, you could face enormous bills and a damaged credit rating if you can’t pay them.

But I am also frugal, so there is often a tug-of-war going on in my head when I rent a car: do I pay for the rental car company’s coverage or not? Purchasing it can literally double the cost of a car rental. Sometimes the coverage is even more expensive than the daily rental rate.

Fortunately there are some good alternatives for those who want to be protected and save money.

1. Your Own Car Insurance

If you own a car, then you (hopefully) have car insurance, and this is probably your first line of defense. You want to make sure you are adequately covered in four areas:

Loss of use: If you wreck a rental car, the rental agency will charge for the days that car is unavailable to other customers. My own auto insurance does not provide this coverage, so I use a credit card that fills this gap. (More on that in a moment.)

Collision/Comprehensive: Collision coverage typically covers damage to the vehicle if you are involved in an accident, while comprehensive coverage often pays for damage to the car due to theft, vandalism, flood, fire etc. Remember, your current deductible will apply. (Using the right credit card to pay for the rental can be helpful, since it may cover your deductible.)

Liability: This generally covers damage to another vehicle(s) and/or medical bills to others injured in an accident you caused. If you have an umbrella policy, that coverage may provide additional protection.

Medical/ Personal Accident Coverage: Does your personal auto insurance offer coverage for medical bills sustained in an accident, and will that extend to a rental car? Do you have good medical insurance? (Note, consumers who are injured in an accident sometimes find their own medical insurer balks at paying those medical bills.)

2. Your Credit Card Coverage

Many credit cards offer rental car coverage. This insurance is usually secondary to your personal auto policy, and that the claim will first be filed with your own insurer. (A few credit cards automatically include primary coverage.) But it may cover deductibles or expenses that your personal auto insurance doesn’t, such as loss of use. However, you’ll need to be aware of exclusions, which may include rentals in some foreign countries, certain types of vehicles such as pickup trucks or full-sized vans, or travel on unpaved roads. Full-time students may also be excluded from coverage.

Like most third-party coverage, it typically covers expenses related to the rental car but not to other cars you damage or people or property you damage in an accident. For example, when I reviewed the coverage offered by the credit card I use most often, I noticed the following are not covered:

  • Damage to any vehicle other than the rental car;
  • Damage to any property other than the rental car, owner’s property, or items not permanently attached to the rental vehicle;
  • The injury of anyone or anything.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind here is that you need to read the details about what is and isn’t covered before you get to the rental car counter.

If you’re thinking about getting a new credit card that provides rental car coverage, keep in mind that your credit score will be a factor in whether you’re approved. You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see where you stand.

3. Private Third-Party Coverage

If you purchase travel insurance, you can often add rental car coverage for a small additional fee, says Damian Tysdal, publisher of TravelInsuranceReview.net. But, as with credit card coverage, it usually doesn’t cover everything. “It is really just for collision and loss of use,” he says. “It won’t cover a car you hit, or harm to others.”

You can also purchase coverage through a third party, even if you don’t buy travel insurance. For example, American Express cardholders can buy “Premium Rental Car Coverage” for most rentals for a flat fee of $19.95 or $24.95 per rental (not per day). It is primary coverage, and there is no deductible. It also provides additional coverage for accidental death and secondary coverage for medical expenses, and covers vehicles the basic automatic coverage doesn’t (such as luxury vehicles and SUVs).

Other third-party services such as Protect Your Bubble, offers rental car coverage for $7.99 per day and covers rental car damage and theft, and personal effects protection, with no deductible. However, like other third-party coverage, it doesn’t include additional liability coverage or personal accident insurance so you’ll want to make sure you are adequately covered there through your own insurance policy or find out whether that coverage is available through your rental agency.

“If you are looking for the best coverage, look to your personal auto insurance,” says Tysdal. If you don’t own a car or have minimal coverage on your vehicle, you may need to piece together the best coverage you can from the options available.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

MONEY Gas

Can You Say Road Trip? Gas Prices Will Stay Cheap Through Summer

women on roadtrip, leaning out car windows
Alamy

Forecasts indicate that gas prices this summer will average $2.45—more than 30% cheaper than they were the year before.

It’s more or less tradition that gas prices spike in summer, hand in hand with vacation season and rising demand. Based on the new forecast from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), however, prices at the pump are expected to remain flat for months to come.

Since prices right now are dirt cheap compared to previous years—the national average of $2.39 per gallon as of Wednesday is $1.20 lower than the same day in 2014—that means big savings for drivers. What with cheap gas prices and increased fuel efficiency in today’s vehicles, average household spending on gas in the U.S. this year is projected to hit its lowest level since 2004. The typical household should expect to save $700 on filling up this year compared to 2014.

The EIA is forecasting a national average of $2.45 per gallon from April through September, and an average of $2.40 for 2015 as a whole. The last year that saw a cheaper average than this was 2009, when prices dipped dramatically to $2.35 after inching up consistently, from $2.25 in 2005, to $2.58 in 2006, and $2.81 in 2007, then spiking to $3.26 in 2008.

What’s truly remarkable is that the EIA estimates could be on the high side. The analysts at GasBuddy call for a national average of between $2.15 and $2.35 in June, for instance, compared to an EIA projection of $2.45 for the month. No matter what, as long as these estimates are in the ballpark, prices will be far cheaper than June 2014, when the average was around $3.60.

And yes, prices could even get cheaper as summer draws near, which is the opposite of what drivers have grown accustomed to. “We know that our assessment challenges the conventional thinking that believes retail fuel prices always run highest during the summer driving season,” GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said in a press release. “Barring any unforeseen events—like refinery breakdowns or hurricanes—current supply and demand fundamentals could put more downward pressure on retail prices even during the summer driving season.”

The experts at AAA agree, explaining, “Unless there are new regional refinery issues or global crude prices turn markedly higher, drivers can expect to see pump prices continue to slide leading up to the start of the summer driving season.”

MONEY Autos

8 Luxury Cars You Can Buy for Under $20K

2012 Infiniti G Sedan
Infiniti—Wieck 2012 Infiniti G Sedan

A little patience and shopping around can save you a lot of money on luxury vehicles.

Fancy cars generally come with hefty price tags, but that doesn’t necessarily mean luxury is beyond your reach. With a little bit of patience and strategy, you might be able to buy a luxury vehicle for thousands of dollars off the sticker price.

The National Automobile Dealers Association compiled a list of eight luxury vehicles that could be bought for roughly $20,000 or less — in some cases, that’s more than $10,000 off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). NADA recently published the list, which is made up of used vehicles with mileages between 45,001 and 50,000.

2012 Infiniti G25 Sedan
Used Price: $20,500
MSRP: $32,400

2012 MINI Cooper S Convertible
Used Price: $19,600
MSRP: $27,950

2012 Lincoln MKZ AWD 3.5L V6
Used Price: $19,575
MSRP: $36,535

2012 Volvo C30 2.5L I5 Turbo
Used Price: $19,500
MSRP: $24,700

2012 Acura TSX 2.4L I4 Automatic
Used Price: $19,450
MSRP: $29,810

2012 Volvo S60 2.5L I5 Turbo
Used Price: $19,250
MSRP: $31,450

2012 Audi A3 2.0T Premium Automatic
Used Price: $18,825
MSRP: $27,270

2012 MINI Cooper Clubman S
Used Price: $18,425
MSRP: $24,900

The auto dealers association also published lists of luxury vehicles available for less than $25,000 and less than $30,000 — the vehicles on those lists were also mostly used cars with about 45,001 to 50,000 miles on them.

Sticker price is only part of figuring out what kind of car you can afford to buy. If you’re financing the purchase, your credit score and down payment will heavily influence the interest rate you qualify for, and the higher it is, the more you’ll end up paying over time. (You can get your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see where you stand.) You also need to consider how long you plan to own the car and, as a result, what length loan term makes sense for you. A six-year loan will lower your monthly payment, but you’ll end up paying more on a depreciating asset in the long run, and you may find yourself in a complicated situation if you want to replace the vehicle before you’ve repaid the loan. On top of that, you’ll have to consider insurance costs, because that may drive your monthly automobile costs higher than your budget allows.

If driving a luxury car is a high priority for you, there are certainly deals to be had, but if minimizing your car costs overall is more important, going for a used luxury vehicle may not be a ticket to saving money.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

MONEY Autos

What’s Hot at the 2015 New York International Auto Show

From American luxury to German engineering, Fortune contributor Jason Harper gives us an inside look at the best of this year’s show.

MONEY Autos

We Got a Tour of the New Lincoln Continental

The new Lincoln Continental concept car was on display at the New York Auto show, and Jason Harper got an up-close look.

TIME Autos

Cadillac Unveils Luxury Sedan That People Might Actually Want

2016 Cadillac CT6
Cadillac The 2016 Cadillac CT6

After a four-year-absence from the luxury sedan market, Cadillac has a new flagship brand

Cadillac unveiled a new, flagship sedan on Wednesday, the CT6, marking the company’s long awaited re-entry into the luxury sedan market.

Cadillac has been noticeably absent from that segment ever since it discontinued production of the DTS, its last full-sized sedan, in 2011. With the CT6, the automaker hopes to tap into a fast-growing luxury sedan segment, fueled by China’s growing demand for prestigious American brands.

2016  CT6

The CT6 has a 400-horsepower V-6 engine and an aluminum chassis that puts it in the same weight class as its midsize sedans. The roomy interior includes some high-end touches including a 10-inch touch screen, a Bose 34-speaker sound system and seats with five separate massage settings.

MONEY Odd Spending

7 Things You Won’t Believe Were Sold for Only $1

Copies of the New York Daily News are displayed on a newsstand in New York's Times Square
Brendan McDermid—Reuters Copies of the New York Daily News are displayed on a newsstand in New York's Times Square March 31, 2015.

An offer is on the table to buy the New York Daily News for just $1, which on the surface seems mind-boggling. Bizarrely, many big-ticket items have been known to trade hands for just a buck.

As Reuters reported on Tuesday, Cablevision is preparing to make a bid for the struggling New York tabloid the Daily News. The bid is expected to be a grand total of just $1, which sounds insane until you factor in that the paper reportedly loses $30 million annually and needs an investment of $150 million in its printing press.

Here are a few other noteworthy things that have sold a for just a buck. Some are amazing deals, while others aren’t remotely bargains, even with a mere $1 asking price.

Historic Homes
Grand old homes have been known to sell for just $1, often with the catch being that the new owners must handle the cost of moving the building to a new location. In other instances, the list price of $1 is the result of the property being a fixer-upper, to put it mildly, as well as in an undesirable location.

Timeshares
Timeshares occasionally are put on the market for dirt cheap, typically by owners who want to unload the property’s costly maintenance fees. The properties are often sold for $1, though most of RedWeek’s Bargain Timeshares roundup are listed at $0.

Cars
A used car dealer in New Zealand hoped to get about $3,000 for a 1994 BMW in an online auction, but due to a mistake a customer wound up purchasing it at a Buy-It-Now price of $1. The dealer actually honored the sale price too. Meanwhile, at least one car dealership in Texas listed a few $1 mystery cars on his lot as part of a Black Friday promotion in 2013.

Flights
When $1 flights appear, travelers must act immediately and be flexible about when they can fly. For obvious reasons, deals like this are available in extremely limited quantities. Over the years, carriers such as Nature Air (in Costa Rica), TigerAir Australia, America’s Spirit Airlines, and Europe’s Ryanair have been known to sell flights for $1, or about that much in the local currency.

Newsweek
A few months after Newsweek stopped putting out a print edition in 2013, the brand was purchased by IBT Media for $1. It had previously been sold to the wealthy philanthropist and businessman Sidney Harman, also at a price of $1, plus liabilities.

Dinner
Last summer, the on-demand food delivery service Spoonrocket tried to break the Guinness World Record for largest ever virtual dinner party, and it used a $1 dinner promotion as enticement to get consumers to join in the cause. Too bad the site crashed during the PR stunt and countless people found it impossible to get their $1 dinner.

Hotels
The Public Chicago hotel periodically offers hundreds of hotel rooms at a special rate of $1 per night. How and when the rooms go on sale is something of a mystery, however, and anyone hoping to snag the deal would have to sign up for promotional emails from the hotel. In years past, the Hoxton Hotel in London has run a similar promotion, though its rooms were offered at £1.

MONEY Autos

Lincoln Continental Will Roll Once More

Thirteen years after the last Lincoln Continental rolled off the assembly line, Ford unveiled a new concept version of the classic car.

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