Lithia Motors launches first physical driveway location
PORTLAND, OR — As vehicle purchasing has shifted from exclusively in-store to online, auto dealerships have also evolved to meet customer expectations and needs. With 296 locations in the United States and Canada and $22.8 billion in revenue in 2021, up from $13.1 billion in 2020 – Lithia Motors, based in Medford, OR, is the third largest dealership group in the United States behind AutoNation and Penske Automotive Group.
Lithia launched Driveway in September 2020 to allow customers to shop the company’s tens of thousands of new and used vehicles online. Today, Driveway offers online car shoppers something both old and new: a storefront experience.
Earlier this month, Driveway launched its first brick-and-mortar location in Portland, OR, which is a hybrid of online shopping and concession experience.
“The reason we started Driveway is because we think a portion of people are going to buy a car online and want it delivered, and we want to be part of that.” Bryan Osterhout, senior vice president of operations for Lithia and Drivewayrecount Neighborhoods on the occasion of the inauguration of the store.
Lithia also believes there is a gap between shopping online and shopping at dealerships that Driveway’s first physical location will fill.
“With Driveway, we are in the early stages and have had great success,” Osterhout said. “We learn a lot from our customers along the way and realize that they want the ability to go online, buy a car and have it delivered. But they also want the ability to, for example, start the process at home and go to the dealership and buy a vehicle.
Phil Brooker, Managing Director of Platform for Lithia and Driveway, adds: “We are breaking the traditional mould. IIf you want to buy a car from the store, we are more than happy to help. If you would like to buy one online and (have it) delivered to your home, we are happy to help you too.
No cars and modern decor
Unlike a traditional dealership, Driveway’s Portland location doesn’t have a showroom full of cars and salespeople. Instead, it features modern furnishings and decor.
“We want customers to feel like they’re in their living room,” says Shane Robidoux, Store Manager at Driveway Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Portland.
All Driveway salespeople use iPads and laptops to interface with customers, allowing them to sit next to customers rather than across from them at a desk, Robidoux adds. “The customer is in control. We are just here to help them.
Brooker says, “We want to serve people around their needs and we empower our staff to make it a unique experience for each person.
Driveway offers what Lithia calls “price transparency without haggling” – the price displayed for a customer is the price he pays for a vehicle, Osterhout said.
“For years, the No. 1 complaint we get is how long it takes to buy a car,” he adds. “We don’t sit clients in an F&I office for two hours and go back and forth to see if we can close a deal. We show them the price on the screen and say, “Here is the payment amount and here is the interest rate. It creates a lot of confidence. »
Lithia and Driveway “spend a ton of time pricing cars to make sure we have the right price so customers can come in, buy the car, and the whole process is quick and easy – and feels good”, Osterhout said. “We started with what our customers told us they wanted in reviews and surveys.”
Lithia’s nationwide inventory of over 50,000 vehicles also allows Driveway customers to choose a vehicle from anywhere in the country. and get delivered in almost anywhere, with a 7-day money-back guarantee.
“You don’t have to buy what’s on our land,” says Brooker. “And we have what we call last mile delivery. If a Driveway customer in Oregon wants a stock vehicle in Texas, it’s shipped to the Portland store and delivered to the customer, he says.
Brooke describes Driveway as “a learning incubator and we’re going to feel comfortable before we expand it. Shane and his team learn every day what customers want, need and ask for. »
Lithia plans to open other Driveway storefronts, Osterhout said. “Our plans are definitely to roll it out to other markets,” he says, though he doesn’t reveal the timeline.
“Our management has a vision that if we really want to help our customers, we have to help them on their terms,” Osterhout said.