The process of buying a car hasn’t changed much in the last century.
The encounter begins and ends at a brick-and-mortar dealership. You start with a friendly handshake, maybe some small talk — but things eventually descend into a cage match of price-haggling, poring over long contracts and trying to keep your wits about you as the hours drag on.
Even if you drive off with the exact vehicle you wanted, you still can’t shake that nagging feeling that you somehow got burned.
Enter Pure Pursuit Automotive, a startup run by a bunch of tech, car and aviation enthusiasts who want to simplify online car-buying. Pure Pursuit describes itself as a boutique sport-luxury car dealer built on an all-digital platform that allows it to sell vehicles throughout the US.
And that digital integration — along with a nationwide stock of vehicles to pull from — are precisely what sets Pure Pursuit apart. The traditional salesperson is all but removed from the equation, replaced with virtual assistants, tablets and a 110-inch “tech wall” that allow you to browse vehicles, watch custom videos of the cars, and get the tires rolling on your purchase.
Business Insider talked with Pure Pursuit founder, Glen Dakan, who tells us what motivated him to disrupt the car-buying industry.
“It was a pain trying to buy a high-end car sight unseen over the internet in the early 2000s,” the veteran US Navy pilot explains, admitting that he’s never purchased a car from a traditional dealership.
“I’ve always been an advanced car-buyer, so I wanted to start an enthusiast-level dealership that catered to other car enthusiasts.”
While Pure Pursuit’s primary business model is car sales, the company brands itself as an automotive technology startup.
Pure Pursuit launched two years ago in Dakan’s basement. After moving all over the country while serving for a decade as a US Navy pilot, the entrepreneur and car enthusiast found himself short of options when he wanted to buy his dream car online.
As most discerning car enthusiasts will tell you, it’s not always easy finding the exact model you want. Dakan says Pure Pursuit has “created an entire business line designed to pursue custom orders for enthusiasts, searching nationwide and delivering that vehicle to their door.”
In Dakan’s view, selling pristine high-end vehicles online requires a robust digital footprint. Remote clients get custom video of the cars and can complete the entire purchase online.
But Pure Pursuit’s most valuable assets probably lie within its Kansas City, Missouri showroom. Customers first encounter “Chelsea” — the company’s holographic, 3M-powered digital assistant — which will get you acquainted with the space and the luxury vehicles on hand there.
Combined with beacon technology, tablet computers can display information and videos about the cars as you walk up to them.
The company says people visiting its retail location in person experience a connected showroom that includes a 110-inch “tech wall” where buyers can build their dream cars.
Customers can use hand gestures to operate the Windows Kinect-powered display, which also doubles as a giant video wall where you can experience the cars in a virtual environment.
There are other companies trying to follow this new evolution in car buying. Tesla Motors is arguably the benchmark for such an experience, with its boutique retail locations that invite buyers to get acquainted with the brand while the cars are ordered online. BMW and Audi have also moved toward a more personalised sales approach.
Much like Pure Pursuit’s nearest competitors, you’ll need to be ready to spend money. You won’t find any mass-produced grocery-getters here. The company specialises in pre-owned sport and luxury vehicles ranging from about $US75,000 and up.
The growing company wants to be the answer for tech-savvy car enthusiasts who demand concierge-level service from people who share their excitement for world-class motoring.
You can see Pure Pursuit in action here:
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