Dealerships Are Failing When It Comes To Showcasing Driver Assistance Systems

It’s no secret that cars are becoming more high-tech as automakers rush to introduce new driver assistance systems. Unfortunately, it appears many of these features aren’t being demonstrated to consumers.

As The Wall Street Journal notes, a recent study from McKinsey & Co. estimates that 70% of car shoppers are aware about driver assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane-keep assist. However, only about a third of consumers actually use them on a test drive.

This is understandable for some features as dealers might be not located near a highway where adaptive cruise control systems can really shine. It’s also safe to assume dealers wouldn’t want their customers to have a near collision just to showcase the automatic emergency braking system.

However, there are some reasons that are not quite as obvious. As the report notes, many dealership don’t stock pricey models loaded with thousands of dollars of optional driver assistance systems. Some dealers are also more concerned about selling cars than taking the time to explain individual safety systems.

The paper notes a poll recently conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab found just 35% of salespeople interviewed were able to thoroughly explain advanced safety features. One of the study’s authors chalked this up to several different factors including a lack of training and high dealership turnover rates.

Some dealerships are doing better than others and the report mentions the usual steps that Quirk Ford of Massachusetts is taking. Once a customer buys a car, a teenager from the dealership’s “Technology Team” helps the buyer to understand the car’s features and how to use them.

  • Toyota includes many safety features standard on all their vehicles/trims that are optional on other manufacturers such as pre-collision system, lane departure alert and dynamic radar cruse control. When I looked at a new Corolla in the showroom, the salesman showed the backup camera and told us about all the sensors/camera on the car but didn’t show the pre-collision sytem or lane departure alert.

  • Howstar

    Because car dealers and car engineers are about as far apart as you can get.

    Said as an engineer who has visited many car dealers and heard the bs they spout about anything technical.

    • Jason Panamera

      You don’t have to be an engineer to see that they are missing the point while explaining all this stuff. Their aim is to sell this car, not to bless it and go away.

  • Harry Nimmergut

    I’ve been through this from both sides. In defense of car salespeople, each model these days often has specific features that others don’t (even the location of common features can be wildly different), so what really SHOULD happen is that dealers need “model specialists”. The infotainment system alone can take 3 hours to explain to a customer, and most customers will fall asleep during the demo. Then you add all this new “to keep you alive while you’re texting” tech, and there goes the better part of a day.
    My salesperson last fall knew very little about the infotainment system and had no clue as to what start-stop is.
    I’m not so sure that salespeople should be the ones performing delivery anymore. “Delivery specialists” is another idea.

  • brn

    Dealerships are failing? No. If there’s a failure, it’s the buyers.

    Car salesfolk showcase what they believe they need to showcase to sell you a car. If 65% of buyers are focused on items other than driver assistance systems, that’s the buyer’s fault, not the dealer’s.

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