The way Australians buy new cars is about to change in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, which has fast-tracked a shift to “click and collect” shopping and given buyers the confidence to purchase big ticket items after researching and negotiating online or over the phone.
Soon, new-car buyers will be able to purchase a vehicle from a shopping centre or an airport – thanks to Australia’s largest new-car dealer group.
The Eagers conglomerate is currently made up of more than 230 showrooms nationally, including 19 of the Top 20 automotive brands, and most luxury marques.
Last year, the Eagers dealer group alone delivered one in 10 of all new cars sold in Australia.
From the middle of this year, Eagers will start construction at a new 90,000m2 mega complex near Brisbane airport that will have its own 2.5km test track, and more than two dozen showrooms and service centres. It promises to be the biggest facility of its type in the world.
From the end of this year, Eagers will start selling cars from a new motorshow-style display area – estimated to be as big as a Coles supermarket – inside a Brisbane shopping centre.
The shopping centre new-car showroom will be staffed by experienced sales and finance representatives for each brand from affiliated dealerships nearby.
Motorists will also be able to get their vehicles serviced by mainstream manufacturers – rather than third-party provides such as Kmart Auto – while they shop.
The new-car showroom – in a shopping mall complex in the Brisbane suburb of Indooroopilly – is due to open in December 2021 and will have enough room to display more than 30 vehicles from several mainstream brands which are yet to be announced.
There will also be car servicing facilities a level above the showroom.
While the Brisbane Airport mega site isn’t due to be up and running until 2023, developers have been preparing the reclaimed land in readiness for construction, which is due to commence by the middle of this year.
Mercedes-Benz pioneered new-car sales and service centres at Sydney and Melbourne airports more than a decade ago, however the Brisbane airport site is the first time multiple mainstream brands will be able to offer a similar service.
For now the closest such facility to the Brisbane airport concept is Essendon Fields, which has a dozen new-car showrooms and service centres located about a 10-minute drive from Melbourne's Tullamarine airport.
Eagers Automotive chief operating officer Keith Thornton said the supermarket location and the Brisbane airport mega site were designed to engage with car-buyers in new ways – and in a stress-free environment.
“The great thing about a shopping centre showroom is our customers are already going there,” Mr Thornton told the Australian Financial Review newspaper.
The shopping centre site will also put 35 new cars in front of up to 10.5 million visitors to the mall each year.
A representative for AMP Capital, which owns 50 per cent of the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, told the AFR the new-car showroom was part of a trend to move shopping centres “towards more lifestyle destinations” and giving shoppers “more experiences, they want services.”