When it comes to buying a car, Eastsiders do their homework, local experts say. Oh, and they also like to drive in style.
On the Eastside, cars are hot and rolling off the lot. And our local buyers are pretty with it when it comes to finding their next ride. Eastside car-buyers tend to know their stuff when purchasing, according to Stu Cordova of Auto Connections of Bellevue.
“(Eastside buyers are) smart, they’re educated, and they’re well-informed,” said Cordova.
Thanks to up-to-speed consumers, Cordova said, the car-buying process is simple because purchasers come in with the information they need and are ready to purchase.
According to a 2015 study by insurance firm Nationwide, customers tend to want to avoid negotiation for a car. The study found 38 percent found negotiation with the dealer to be the most painful part of the car-buying process.
And 70 percent of car buyers in the study said they would give up either social media, dessert, coffee, smartphones, or even bathing for a week if they could avoid negotiating.
Matt Logue, sales manager for Bellevue Auto House, also said that Eastside buyers study up before buying. He said on average shoppers likely spend about three hours researching before they hit the showroom floor. That’s especially true for younger buyers, he said.
“They already know what inventory you have and what price range they’re in,” Logue said.
Bellevue Auto House specifically sells pre-owned luxury cars. It’s been on the Eastside for 23 years and in that time luxury cars like BMWs have always been in demand.
“BMW is what this area likes,” said Logue. As far as time-of-the-year trends, car-buying doesn’t tend to have a main season, Cordova said. But the time of the year can impact which cars roll off the lot. Summer, Cordova said, tends to be the time when people look for sports cars and convertibles. Yes, those precious sunny months in Washington get drivers in the mood to drop the top.
Much of car sales comes down to sticking to a particular brand, said Acura of Bellevue sales manager Minh Dang.
“A lot of people have loyalty to their brand,” said Dang. “A lot of our customers are repeat customers … they basically come in to upgrade.”
Nationwide, however, car trends are different. The top three cars, according to the Wall Street Journal’s market data center, are pickup trucks — The Ford F Series, Dodge Ram, and Chevrolet Silverado.
On the Eastside, Cordova said that BMWs tend to be a standby, along with
Audi, and Mercedes. Teslas are rising in demand as well as people tend to gravitate to more high-tech cars.
Dang said that there’s a rising demand for high-tech safety features as well as cars that can tie in with a driver’s cellphone for commands, hands-free calling, and more.
There’s obviously demand for high-tech cars on the Eastside, with two Tesla stores in Bellevue. For reference, there are only three Tesla stores statewide, with one retail store in Seattle.
But it’s not just Teslas that are in demand — overall, electric vehicles have become more popular, too. A report by ChargePoint, an electric vehicle charging company, said that Washington state is one of the top 10 states for electric vehicles. The Seattle-area has the sixth largest number of electric vehicles among metro areas nationwide.
And electric vehicles are just the tip of the iceberg of high-tech cars. The Waymo project, for self-driving cars, also has come to the Eastside. Since 2016, Kirkland has been one of the four testing locations for Waymo. Waymo spun off from Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Uber is working on a similar technology — with a little controversy. Waymo filed a lawsuit claiming that Uber has copied its laser sensor system that helps the car “see” the road. The piece is called a lidar system. Tesla also is working on self-driving technology.
Who knows what the future looks like for cars? Electric, self-driving, and more? Tech is evolving the landscape in the car world and of course here on the Eastside, but shopping for cars and hitting the road is timeless.