Future of auto retail is online, but showrooms to stay, Hyundai Canada CEO says

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TORONTO — The head of Hyundai Canada says the future of car buying is online, up to a point.

President and CEO Don Romano says the company, which launched its Genesis line of higher-end cars as an online only option in 2016, learned that many buyers still want to walk through a showroom.

Romano says the company, which also introduced fixed prices with the Genesis line to eliminate haggling, has since partnered with agents with physical showrooms to appeal to those who want to browse in person.

Speaking at the Elevate tech conference in Toronto, Romano said that while dealerships will still play a role, the company is working to move much of the car buying process online to improve a process that the vast majority of car shoppers dislike.

Hyundai has been an early mover among major auto companies to shift shopping online, though Telsa Inc. has been selling vehicles online for years and others are moving more into the space.

The company launched a new online portal across Hyundai Canada last year that allows customers to build and price their model as well as get a firm quote on a trade-in value, go through an online credit application, and book a test drive.

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