I do not want to own that car


For the first time in my life I have been spending (way too much) time at new car dealerships in order to get a car. Moved to Sweden. Want to see the nature. Need a car. Simple.

The search started in Germany, but I continued here in Sweden for the last three weeks. I had a simple mission: I have a budget of X that I want to spend per month on mobility. I did not care which car I got, but I wanted to get the best car possible for my monthly budget. I obviously want to maximize the car (Audi A4 being better than A3 or Mercedes E-Class being preferred over C-Class) but was not set on a brand or a particular model. Not an engine or even a color. Of course I had preferences, but ultimately I just wanted to get the best car for my budget.

Sounds like a simple task. With leasing and financing options being marketed everywhere.

Turns out, not so much the case.

On my journey to find a car that fits my monthly budget, I have now visited 17 dealerships in two countries (Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Skoda, Volkswagen, Mazda, Jeep). Yes, I am still on vacation and have time.

We are so used to price filters and option checkboxes and sorting algorithms from buying online, that it felt like the 1990s when not a single car salesman could perform the task: Whats the best car I can get in this dealership for x per month? Available now and not built to order. Without being determined on which model, or which engine, or which navigation system version, or which leather color, they were stuck. So we started with one more or less random model, and the price was either dramatically under, or dramatically over my budget. The search in their antiquated on premise installation plus calculation for lease price usually took 20-30 minutes per car.

By the third car and we were still wildly guessing which car might fit the budget, the salesmen usually commented in the likes of “Yeah, this software really sucks” or “I know, this must be frustrating”.

The fascinating thing: the sticker price of the car has literally no influence on the monthly payment price. A car with the value of 30.000€ could end at a leasing of 500€ (same time, same mileage) or at 1000€. Two cars priced the same – if I wanted to purchase them – often had a factor of 3 price difference on the leasing price. The sales men were as baffled as I was.

The simple fact that I do not want to own the car, but want to spend money on my monthly transportation fascinated most of them. This has been a complicated journey. I doubt that this is because the sales men didn’t now their job. Did I invent a new way of thinking about transportation?

Well it does not seem like it.

So here is my shoutout: would someone please develop a brand overarching SaaS solution which allows customers to search for cars available at dealerships in their region based on monthly budget, and not based on V4 vs V6 or 2.0TDI vs 1.8TFSI?

I will make sure you get funding!

Result after way too much time wasted: I ended up with an ok car (not what I had in mind), but at 50% of my originally set monthly budget. So thats good. I guess.

The whole car purchasing experience feels so antiquated. From front to end.
  • Frank Szendzielarz

    Hmm… I suppose rather than bother with integration, if the dealerships already have websites with their available cars online, then the solution could offer a simple data entry screen: monthly rental details, URL to existing car description. Perhaps a simple browser plugin for the dealership – browse to car and press “Add to Rental System”. The backend would occasionally ping the db of URLs to see if they were still active, and after N retries of not getting a page, after some period of time the car would get unlisted.
    Just my first shot at a design :-)

    • simonschmincke

      The issue is the “reverse” search. And the integration into the Audi Bank / Mercedes Bank for leasing pricing.

      • Frank Szendzielarz

        …wondering if the leasing prices should be so one directional like that, an SaaS platform like that could quickly evolve into a reverse auction….hmmm….going to think about this and talk to some people…..

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    • simonschmincke