What's In Store

New CarMax service lets Charlotte customers test drive, buy cars from home

PLANO, TEXAS: Austin Hamilton of CarMax, left, talks with customer David Wilson.
PLANO, TEXAS: Austin Hamilton of CarMax, left, talks with customer David Wilson. The Miami Herald

Used-car seller CarMax is testing a new “home delivery” service in Charlotte that lets potential customers test drive and buy a car without having to visit the car dealership.

Charlotte’s the first market in which CarMax is testing its new service, the company said in a statement. The service, which comes at no added cost, is currently only available in North Carolina within a 60-mile radius of Charlotte.

The offering lets customers find the vehicle they want from a selection of almost 50,000, apply for financing and trade in their current car, all from home.

CarMax will deliver the car to the customer’s home, letting him or her experience the car in a familiar neighborhood and test how accessories like strollers and bikes fit in it.

The company said it’ll use the Charlotte testing to “gather valuable customer insights and learn the best ways to further operationalize this offering for potential future markets.”

CarMax’s new service is another way car dealers are trying to optimize the vehicle-buying experience. Charlotte-based Sonic Automotive, for example, in 2014 rolled out a digital sales platform called One Sonic One Experience, meant to eliminate the “pain points” of the traditional car-buying experience, like price haggling, pushy salesmen and long periods of time spent at the dealership.

This fall, CarMax is also rolling out online financing, which lets customers get prequalified for auto financing from home before buying a car at the dealership.

CarMax is a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Richmond, Va.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta