‘Unboxing’ is a phenomenon that’s taken the Internet by storm in recent years. For those not in the know, it’s just as straightforward as it sounds: reviewers, normally on sites like YouTube, will unbox or unwrap consumer goods like mobile phones, computers or headphones or on camera, showing off how things are packaged and normally offering a short review of the product.
But really, it’s the unboxing rather than the review that people watch these videos for. There’s something oddly compelling and satisfying about them – it’s in the same sort of realm as ASMR videos or watching people slowly work on project cars (if you’re a gearhead like me).
But something that’s just as satisfying as unboxing videos – even more satisfying if you’re also a car nerd – is seeing people spec out cars online. Buying a new car used to mean going to a dealership, checking out different cars and physically ticking boxes on an options list; a tedious but necessary process. These days, many car brands let you completely option, customise and order your car all from the comfort of your own home. It’s fun to do yourself, and it’s surprisingly fun to watch others do it too.
Don’t believe us? Check out this video by YouTuber Lewis Hilsenteger, whose channel Unbox Therapy boasts almost 18 million subscribers, where he specs out a new Tesla Model S Plaid. It’s hard not to enjoy it.
While Tesla has certainly been an innovator in the online car sales space, they’re by no means the only car company in Australia that allows you to buy a new car this way.
Other brands that allow you to order their entire range online include Audi, Kia, Hyundai, Škoda, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen. A few other brands are trialling online sales by making only a select few models or ranges available, such as BMW (only the 530e), MINI (only the new MINI Electric) and Mercedes-Benz (only the EQC). Notice a theme? Those trial models are all electrified. Wonder what inspired them to do that…
As fun as it is to watch someone spec a car online, it’s more fun to do it yourself. It’s really the ultimate form of window-shopping – but as convenient as it is, it’s no replacement for going into a dealer and actually experiencing the car in person.
But speccing out a car online is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how the new car buying experience is changing. Some brands are now starting to offer virtual and augmented reality experiences, and other brands are ditching the traditional dealership model completely. For example, Genesis will bring a car to you, hand you the keys and let you test drive at your pleasure, with their dealerships styled as ‘studios’ which supplement the traditional new car buying process.
Another big shift is likely to occur when we start moving to self-driving cars… More of a test ride than a test drive, then? They say the past is a different country, but the future’s feeling pretty alien, too. Space-age stuff indeed.
Have a go at speccing out a Tesla yourself using their online configurator here.