Remember predictions of yesteryear that one-price, no-haggle vehicle selling would replace that supposed bane of the automotive retailing - the negotiation process?
Well, it isn't happening. In fact, negotiating is growing in popularity.
Nearly seven out of 10 consumers polled say they liked their most-recent experience of negotiating for their vehicle.
That's from the Dohring Co.'s latest study on customer preferences.
The study says 67% of respondents liked the negotiation process.
"In eight years of asking this question, this is the highest percentage of car and truck buyers reporting that they liked negotiating the price," says Rik Kinney, senior vice president of Dohring, an automotive research firm.
Meanwhile, 22% say they dislike negotiating. Another 11% say there were parts of it they liked and disliked.
So why do so many shoppers like haggling for a car these days despite predictions that the negotiation process was down for the count?
Mr. Kinney says it's because negotiating has become more genteel.
He explains, "Both dealers and manufacturers have become more sensitive to consumer concerns regarding the negotiation process. There has been a lot of training and communication that has paid off.
"We know that most people like the idea of negotiating the final price of a car or truck. What many of them didn't like was some of the pressure and other elements that went with it. Clearly, a lot of this has changed and the process is becoming much more consumer-friendly."
Many of the respondents - 39% - say they prefer to shop at a dealership featuring one-price selling.
But nearly 90% of those shoppers say they would shop around after obtaining a price at the one-price store.
"That's what makes the job of the one-price dealer so difficult," says Mr. Kinney.
But one-price selling is not a dead concept.
"Not by any means," says Mr. Kinney. "It's just not on people's minds like it was a couple of years ago."
He adds, "People are looking for dealers to establish their own unique pricing. They are not looking for manufacturers to do it."
Other highlights of Dohring's 2000 national survey:
* Four out of 10 cons-umers say they would rather purchase a higher-end used vehicle for $20,000 than a brand new vehicle for the same price.
* New-vehicle demand is as strong as ever, with 62% of respondents - up from 59% from last year - saying their next purchases will be new vehicles.
* Some modern vehicle options continue to rise in importance. Thirty-five percent of respondents say they want a cellular phone in their vehicle (up from 26% two years ago) and 32% say they want computerized navigation systems (up from 21% in 1998).
* Demand for safety features continues to climb. "It's a call to manufacturers that safety sells," says Mr. Kinney. Seventy-six percent of those surveyed say they want airbags, 85% want ABS brakes and 81% want traction control.
* Incentives are alive and well. "It's almost like a drug manufacturers have injected into consumers," says Mr. Kinney. Last year, 36% of respondents said incentive promotions put them in the marketplace. This year that's up to 45%.
* The Internet: "Even my mom is buying things on the Internet, and that's saying a lot," says Mr. Kinney. The survey says 57% of people used the Internet to determine dealers' invoices on vehicles, 26% say they intend to use the Internet for their next vehicle purchase and 87% used the Internet in some way when purchasing their latest vehicle.