Japan always gets the cool stuff first.
Car shopping habits are changing. Since the pandemic, more people feel comfortable buying a car online without leaving their home, eliminating the need to visit a dealership and be harassed by high-pressure salespeople. To capitalize on the increasing demand for online shopping created by the pandemic and appeal to younger buyers, many carmakers are trialing digital car-shopping services.
Lastsummer, Mini launched a new service that lets you buy a car in as little as 30 minutes, covering everything from trade-ins to monthly payment calculations. You can even now buy a Hyundai on Amazon. Now, Honda has become the first Japanese automaker to sell new cars online to domestic customers.
In Japan, Honda has launched a new online shopping service dubbed Honda ON. For now, the service is only available in Tokyo but will be expanded nationwide, allowing consumers to buy select models online on a subscription-based monthly contract for three or five years. Four models are available to buy using this service: the Honda Fit compact, N-Box minivan, Freed, and Vezel (Japan's version of the HR-V).
The monthly fee includes the cost of the vehicle and maintenance. Every step of the sales process is handled online, from consultations to signing the sales contract.
You don't have to blindly buy a car without testing it either, as the Honda ON lets you book a test drive before signing the contract.
Once a subscription has been ordered, customers can choose which local Honda dealership they want to pick the car up from and where maintenance will be performed. In Japan, Honda's new subscription service starts at 31,060 yen ($279) per month for the N-Box. Ordering a Honda Fit will cost 42,550 yen ($382) per month, while the Freed and Vezel cost 48,850 yen ($439) 48,460 yen ($435) respectively including tax. Time will tell if Honda launches its digital subscription service outside of Japan, but that will likely depend on how successful the initial trial is.