Aaron DiManna
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Opinion: Cadillac Live Could be a Way Forward During COVID-19 Outbreak

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Cadillac's First Electric Vehicle
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As the situation surrounding the coronavirus outbreak continues to develop rapidly, it’s worth taking a break from dwelling on the problems and looking at potential solutions. Just like every industry, both large and small, the automotive market has been hit hard by the pandemic, and customers have been left confused and concerned amid pleas for social distancing and state-authorized “stay at home orders.” With all of this in mind, the way forward for car shoppers and dealerships may already be here, courtesy of Cadillac.

What is Cadillac Live?

As we’ve talked about before on The News Wheel, Cadillac Live is a new way to shop for luxury vehicles. The system, which is currently available in select regions across the U.S. and Canada, is a free online dealership experience that connects you with a live Cadillac employee who will answer any questions you have and take you on a full digital tour of your prospective vehicle.

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In general, Cadillac Live is a quality idea. It addresses the fact that most people start out the car-buying process online, gives them an opportunity to see what a vehicle has to offer outside of photos and numbers, and puts them in direct contact with an expert who can answer all of their questions. In the midst of a global pandemic, it could signify a bold, potentially revolutionary new direction for the industry.

We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic won’t last forever, but I think it’s safe to say that the economic — and potentially social — impacts of this time will be felt for years. At the moment, though, how are you meant to purchase a car if you need one? Many dealerships across the country are either staying open entirely, while others are suspending sales and focusing on service, which some consider an “essential service.” In either case, dealerships encourage everybody on-site to practice CDC-recommended social distancing.

How it could change the game right now

I would argue that Cadillac Live is a better solution for the average consumer. Whether you’re part of an at-risk population or not, apprehension about entering a dealership during the ramp-up of a pandemic is more than justified. Cadillac Live’s model allows prospective buyers to continue their car search, discuss the particulars with professionals, and experience almost every part of the shopping experience — with the exception of a test drive and enjoying the world-famous “new car smell” — all without needing to be within even several miles of a dealership.

As for the driving experience, there are fairly easy ways to execute that with little to no human contact. Many locations encourage you to take your test drive alone, or with the family members you brought with you, so there’s no need for a dealership employee to be in the car with you. At the same time, why not teleconference with your salesperson — post-test drive, of course — to talk over the purchasing process? At the backend, you may be able to sign your purchase/loan/lease documents digitally and provide payment(s) through a secure online source.

Ideally, Cadillac would be able to expand the Live service to its entire network of licensed dealerships and improve upon it in ways that not only encourage, but empower social distancing practices. Even more ideally, other automakers would learn from Cadillac’s example and roll out a similar system nationwide.

Is that likely to happen, especially with budget cuts, manufacturing slowdowns and workplace social distancing practices in place? Probably not. Does it point to the fact that Cadillac is rapidly positioning itself as one of the more forward-thinking automakers out there? Perhaps. Is it a pretty good idea, thought up by a moderately intelligent 20-something working from home in Ohio? I’d like to think so.

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