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Has the 17-minute transaction become a reality?
Edward Lapham  |  Automotive News / May 4, 2007 - 4:26 pm /





Stop the presses!

An anonymous female engineer is likely to find her way into the annals of history as the first U.S. consumer to completely buy a car online.

The 17-minute transaction happened on April 15, according to a news release from Ai-Dealer, which just so happens to market the software used by the dealership that sold the car.

Obviously, the software company wants the engineer immortalized because it claims the software can deal with credit, rebates, accessories, service contracts and even trade-ins.

Depending on your point of view, the engineer deserves to be listed in history books alongside the caveman who discovered fire or the Canadian flight attendant identified as Patient 0 in the AIDS epidemic.

But like that poor, hapless flight attendant who was incorrectly blamed for introducing AIDS in humans in the early 1980s (turns out AIDS was introduced in humans years earlier), I'm not convinced that this was the first complete online vehicle transaction.

Here's why. Years ago, a friend flopped lease vehicles by taking care of all of the details over his cell phone in about 10 minutes. The odds are good that others have done as much or more via e-mail.

But if true, then e-commerce has evolved to the next level, whether or not the April 15 sale was historic.

Imagine how much more efficient it would be if you really could close a deal in 17 minutes.

Of course, someone from the dealership would need to take possession of the trade, do a walkaround of the new vehicle and hand over the keys.

Even so, you just know it's going to spread.