Can you handle tomorrow’s automotive dealerships?

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, September 29, 2021

According to recent media reports, investors are leaving skid marks as they steer away from the century-old model of selling automobiles.
Mom-and-pop dealerships, cagey price negotiations and eye-popping inventories will be left in the rearview mirror as the industry shifts toward consolidation and customers ordering customized vehicles online.
Something seems downright un-American about abandoning the time-tested system of distribution and marketing. Two of my classmates had families who owned dealerships. My father worked for two years at a used-car lot and later worked across the street from Burgett Motor Company.
Sure, elaborate showrooms and acres of asphalt are easy targets for those constantly bellyaching about the wretched excess of American capitalism. But every society has its own flavor of wretched excess, such as a wretched excess of people bragging, “I made it onto the waiting list! Just six more weeks until my tongue depressor arrives!”
And I realize some of us are reprehensible troglodytes for not wanting to change our traditional expectations. Sure, the current system is glaringly inefficient in today’s technological age, but there’s more to life than offering Havoline 10W-40 to the god of Efficiency.
Honestly, the whole idea of personal transportation (be it car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle or horse) is inefficient. All those flexibility-worshipping shoppers, laborers and dialysis patients need to Take One for the Team. Maybe we’ll soon have an Efficiency Czar rousing everyone in the neighborhood for the Great “Carpool.” (“The giant catapult is about to launch! Be sure to have your glider wings adjusted so you can land within two counties of your destination. Be on time for the return giant hamster ball.”)
I know that computer nerds relish the thought of sitting down in a sparse dealership office with a salesman/facilitator (“We decided the free coffee was inefficient, but if you want to chew on some coffee beans and swig hot water…”) to configure a vehicle feature by feature. But surely life loses its richness when there is no sound of “Why don’t you take ’er for a spin?” or “Just get your husband to explain this to you, little lady. Hey, you just parked on my foot, little lady. Little lady!!”
Normal people like being appreciated. We want salivating salesman elbowing each other aside. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” stinks as a substitute for “new car smell.”
There’s just something abstract and soulless about ordering a conveyance you won’t be able to touch for six to eight weeks. You must convince yourself that you enjoy the experience. While you’re at it, why not just specify that the sedan be made of tofu???
This is a classic “be careful what you wish for” scenario. When you commit to the sleekest vehicle on the lot, you can always badmouth “those bozos in Detroit” if you are frustrated by the bells and whistles. If you micromanage your SUV’s every molecule, you’ll end up pleading, “Honest, officer – that full-size disco ball air freshener looked so cool on the salesman’s screen!”
Grit your teeth and make the most of this online future. Get ready to find yourself whining, “Yes, I was supposed to drag race you with my new wheels Saturday, but a Nigerian widow cleaned out my bank account and left me without gas money! But the joke is on her! I still have her late husband’s million shares in Acme Left-Handed Tongue Depressors LLC.”

©2021 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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