As South African shoppers grow accustomed to digital shopping, questions are being asked about the relevance of car dealerships. Will kicking tyres be a thing of the past as more consumers move online, leaving showroom floors all but deserted? At its North American debut last month, Volvo's electric vehicle was put on display for some 200 US customers who had already paid their deposits but were seeing the car "in the flesh" for the first time. The vehicle, which will only begin production in 2019, appeals to a growing consumer base that no longer needs to visit a dealership when choosing its next car, and relies instead on digital browsing. A large percentage of SA-born entrepreneur Elon Musk's Tesla vehicles are pre-ordered. Everyone's an expert Paul de Vantier, MD of Lightstone Consumer, said almost all purchases started online as would-be buyers researched their options. "Many customers arrive at a dealership knowing more about the market and the alternatives they are considerin...

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