Are fewer options the right thing to do?

February 16th, 2009
by Josh Zytkiewicz

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Automakers-putting-brakes-on-apf-14367968.html

When American consumers start buying new cars again, they’ll likely find fewer combinations of moon roofs, seat upholstery and stereo systems to choose from. As with better fuel economy, it’s a case of U.S. automakers taking a cue from their Japanese counterparts.

On the one hand it does make sense to “bundle” options into just a few different vehicles.  It’ll save time, money, resources, etc.  However, I’ve thought for the last few years that automakers could offer more options, more customizations if they would truly embrace the power of the internet.  Why have dealerships full of cars that may not have the exact specifications that a customer might want?  Send 1 or 2 cars of each model for customers to test drive.  They find a model they like, then walk inside, pull it up on the website and select everything they want for their custom car.  In about a week, they come back and pick it up, or have it delivered directly to their home.

No excess inventory, no attempting to choose exactley which features a customer might want.  Hell, no making cars that aren’t paid for, they could require payment before they begin building the car!

Honestly the only advantage of the current system is that you can take a car home the same day.  I think that the public would be willing to wait a few days to get the car they want.  The current system was set up DECADES ago.  We didn’t have as efficient transportation systems then, nor the number of options we have now, nor the instantaneous communication.

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