Rockar: a better way of selling?

  10 November 2014

We write a lot about alternative retail concepts at Auto Retail Network. Will this or that new idea work and should others follow suit? This week it’s the turn of Rockar Hyundai. The company’’s line is that it is “an all-new way to buy a new car”.

I’m not convinced that it is indeed all-new, because its key elements have been tried before. Shopping centre location? Already used by several including Smart, Tesla and others with their pop-up stores. No-haggle price policy and zero sales commission for staff? Dacia, Daewoo (and Tesla). Online purchase: tried by Fiat, Vauxhall, Tesla (again). Online trade-in offer; employed by Honda, We Buy Any Car and many others. Online finance offers; just about everyone.

However, it is the first to combine all of these as a franchised retailer and not as a distributor-owned operation. And this is the part that will be the most interesting to watch.

Hyundai has been clear that Rockar operates within the same franchise agreement as others in the network. And that includes bonuses based on sales volumes. It must also mean the usual length of franchise agreement, which will be somewhat shorter than the 10-year lease agreed on the Bluewater retail unit.

Balancing the high overheads of shopping-centre retail space and the demands of manufacturer set sales target against a no-haggle, no-commission sales policy will be interesting.

However, these concepts need to be tested, and should be applauded for being tested, because a better way of selling new cars may emerge. It may not be right for every retailer and every customers, but it should be better for some, and that’s got to be a good thing.

Tristan Young

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