Buying a new car: these tricks will help you find the best deal

Online-offline trick – how to find the cheapest new car

T he online trade is booming and has received a further boost from the corona crisis. However, when it comes to buying a new car, customers still trust their local dealer. But the web plays a major role here, too.

What is the best way to combine the two worlds?? According to the latest DAT report from deutsche automobil treuhand, only one in ten new cars was sold online in 2020. The internet therefore continues to play only a minor role as a purchasing platform for new car buyers.

On the other hand, the internet is becoming increasingly important for initiating purchases. according to the report, 87 percent of new car buyers inform themselves in advance online about models, prices and equipment variants.

41 percent of respondents can also imagine actually shifting their new car purchase completely online, without personal contact with a local salesperson. So far, however, this has not been the case.

Searching online for the best price

If you want to get the best price for your new car, you can’t afford to buy a new car online. Ferdinand dudenhoffer of the CAR institute, however, can’t get past online platforms "the local dealer can usually grant a discount of maybe eleven or twelve percent, but not much more," says dudenhoffer.

"further discounts are only possible if carmakers also set up bonus programs for dealers, and these are easy to spot on online platforms," says the professor. Because the platforms have more leeway to pass on discounts.

According to the latest CAR report, the average online discount for new cars is around 18 percent. However, there is a clear spread with higher discounts at Renault or Opel and lower discounts at VW.

At the same time, most online car purchases end up back at the traditional dealerships. "Providers such as carneoo, carwow, APL or neuwagen24 are pure agents. Here, the customer ultimately concludes a sales contract with an established dealer," says thomas K. Hamann. He is a business consultant specializing in automotive and mobility issues.

The classic car dealers would use this additional distribution channel to boost their sales. If you search for the car you want on the internet, you will come across many suppliers who advertise attractive prices.

Commissions on car purchases should make you wonder

But not every low-priced offer is worth recommending. One point of difference between serious and dubious offers is brokerage fees. "if an online new car broker asks for a commission payment, you should keep your hands off it, that’s unusual," says hamann. Although the agent receives a commission for the sale, this is a matter between the online agent and the retailer. The car buyer has nothing to do with it.

But good prices can also be achieved at the local dealer, true to the motto: inform online, buy offline. "once you have found the car you want online at an attractive price, you can negotiate with the local car dealer," says dudenhoffer.

If you change brands when buying a new car, you can also speculate on a higher discount. "some car brands offer so-called conquest bonuses for their dealers if they succeed in winning a customer from the competition," says hamann. In an open discussion with the seller, this additional discount could be shared, for example, so that both buyer and seller benefit from it.

When the end of the line has been reached in terms of price alone, customers can often negotiate better terms through natural discounts. "these can be, for example, free inspections, winter wheels or even a charging cable," says hamann.

The right time to buy a new car

At the end of the quarter, many car dealerships often loosen their grip on discounts. "in order to receive certain purchasing conditions, dealers have to sell predefined numbers of units per quarter," says dudenhoffer. "before such a target is missed, the dealer might be willing to drop a percentage point or two after all."

Dealers also realize daily registrations in order to achieve quarterly targets. With these cars, discounts of 20 percent and more are possible with only a few kilometers on the clock.

EU-imported vehicles, on the other hand, are being phased out, according to dudenhoffer. "this used to be worthwhile when the euro did not yet exist and exchange rates led to significant price fluctuations."

More choice at last

In the future, most carmakers will offer their vehicles via agency models anyway. The brand dealer is then also purely an intermediary, but also receives his commission if the customer buys the car on the Internet. Car manufacturers like VW hope this will put an end to the discount battles.

However, there are now also car brands that can’t even be bought at the dealer around the corner. "the volvo subsidiary polestar, for example, only offers its vehicles online. The customer then has the car delivered to a location near his home," says hamann. So there are no negotiating opportunities either online or offline.

The fact that the vast majority of new car customers continue to buy from local dealers is obviously also due to the literal "experience" on the spot. At the very least, the DAT report has found that the test drive is very important to many. those who have made the first purchase usually also buy from this dealer. 93 percent signed the purchase contract there afterwards.

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