Hyundai has come up with a revolutionary way to sell its cars. It's opened its first auto dealership with no dealers. As Julian Satterthwaite reports it thinks it can sell more cars if it gets rid of the salesmen.
The problem with buying a car, is the car salesmen. Or so Hyundai thinks. New research by the company shows that 40 percent of people are put off buying a vehicle by the thought of dealing with salesmen. The Korean automaker thinks it has an answer. Its new store at the Bluewater shopping centre outside London has no salespeople. You buy a vehicle entirely using the tablet computers dotted around the store. Hyundai's UK CEO says staff are only there to help with the technology if needed... and won't speak unless spoken to. SOUNDBITE: Hyundai UK CEO, Tony Whitehorn, saying (English): "This is a complete world first as far as we're aware, in that you can buy a car on line or in store without talking to anybody... you do all the selling of your old car and the buying of your new car, and the first time you see anybody is when the new car turns up on your drive." SOUNDBITE: Reuters Reporter, Julian Satterthwaite, saying (English): "The location in a shopping mall may be aimed at impulse buyers, but the emphasis on tech is very much aimed at young people. All round the world they're buying fewer and fewer cars. They're more interested in smartphones as status symbols, and that has automakers worried." Hyundai partner Rockar developed the new store concept. CEO Simon Dixon says any resemblance to a certain US phonemaker is entirely intentional: SOUNDBITE: Rockar CEO Simon Dixon, saying (English): "We didn't want it to feel just like a small car dealership. Therefore the environment needed to be open, fresh, rewarding and using some of that cues that Apple have done has been successful." Car dealers will never win any popularity contests. But one thing you can do with a computer is haggle for a discount. Even if Hyundai's experiment works, it may not quite spell the death of the salesman.