Online deal opens new world
Digital sales: Subaru sells online. Picture: Brian Jackson/Getty Images/iStockphoto

So you can buy new cars online. Ho hum, we knew that.

But what's special about Subaru's head-turning BRZ is that online is the only place you can buy one.

From 10am Monday the coupe will go live at subaru.com.au for $37,150 drive away.

The click-to-buy method is an initiative of the brand's Australian office, and is not happening in other markets.

It's a first for Australia and has been used very rarely elsewhere.

I did a bit of checking and came up with a Geely Panda special-edition model with a production run of 300 cars.

Subaru Australia's selling site will provide photos, specs, colours, features, options, prices, finance, insurance and a payment facility.

Shoppers seeking a test drive or trade-in valuation can book these online with a dealer.

I'm tipping this is an emotion-stirring car that will be bought by many in a heartbeat - the deal sealed not long after 10am Monday in a few keystrokes.

What will also get keen buyers clicking is that the similar Toyota 86 has a long queue of buyers and only about 200 of the Subaru version will head this way this year.

Just a little worried will be a car dealer or two, concerned the BRZ strategy could be just the start of car makers cutting out the middle man. Dealers make multi-million- dollar commitments to brands like Subaru.

Their investments include prominent high-traffic sites, enticing showrooms, cars galore, state-of-the-art service facilities, staff and training.

Then there's the huge brand-promotion role dealerships carry out via their signage, advertising, marketing, community service and customer relations.

And, what few consumers probably realise, dealer profit margins on new cars under $40,000 are very slim indeed.

Dealers stay afloat via optional equipment, applications like window tinting and fabric protection, finance, insurance, servicing and selling used cars.

Who knows what the car-sales landscape will look like in a decade, but Subaru Australia stresses the BRZ strategy is a one-off.

With the car's limited supply, it was hardly going to put much money in dealers' pockets anyway.

But the online strategy will nevertheless provide positive spin-offs for those who've invested heavily in their physical retail car sites. For example, dealerships will get to make contact with buyers who come in to gawk at the BRZ, do a test drive or have a trade-in valued. And being a first, the strategy will get lots of free media coverage, like this page, for Subaru.

Then there are the benefits to brand imagery of taking such a contemporary approach.

Throw a luscious-looking car that appeals equally to men and women into the mix and you've got marketing gold.

Subaru Australia's selling site will provide photos, specs, colours, features, options, prices, finance, insurance and a payment facility.

Stephen Williams will discuss the BRZ on 6PR today at 9.50am.

The West Australian

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