cars: salespeople that don’t sell cars you can’t get

2013 trip to dealer

Scene: in front of one Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid out of many that’s close to the spec I want.
Me: I’m thinking of ordering this hybrid in a different color. Can I just sit in it?
Salesperson: please, yes! Let’s go for a test drive. … We have a premium Touring in stock at a great price.
Me: that’s OK. I don’t want its sunroof or navigation. I’ll order what I want.
Salesperson: Are you sure? I can sell you that Touring for less than regular. Let’s make a deal! Come inside, have a cup of coffee while I put together a great offer.

2022 trip to dealer

2022 Hyundai Kona Electric in Cactus Green
2022 Hyundai Kona Electric in Unobtainium

Scene: in front of the only new Hyundai Kona Electric on the lot.
Me: waits
Salesperson: That car is pre-delivery, it’s already sold.
Me: Can I just sit in it?
Salesperson: No. You can look inside… alright, you can sit in it.
Me: Seems OK, can I order the Limited I want, Cactus Green with gray interior?
Salesperson: No. Very limited supply until 2023.
Me: How do I buy a car then?
Salesperson: (unwillingly) Here’s my card, you couuuuuld call me in a few weeks.

It was the same story at the Chevy dealer.
Me: I’m thinking of getting this Bolt EUV instead of a Kona Electric, can I order one in Ice Blue Metallic with —
Salesperson: (dismissive laughter)

It’s a different world. What recession? Truecar says people are paying on average $4,500 over list price for Kona Electrics. So what is the point of dealing with a salesperson at a car stealership when supply is limited? Hyundai and Chevrolet have online “Build a car” web sites where you can configure the exact car you want, only to tell you no nearby dealers have that car available. With Tesla you can actually put in an order (and you still won’t get the car until 2023).

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