The recent social distancing mandates and closure of non-essential businesses have us all concerned. How will we replace cars when we need to? As it so happens, we recently interviewed a new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD buyer. The owner, Jamie Hoskins, was trading in a much-loved Prius. As it turned out, Jamie turned in the Prius early on a lease and found the process to be surprisingly easy to navigate.
Please accept this story as one point of reference. We suggest readers phone their local dealership prior to heading over to ensure a smooth process. Here is Jamie's report.
Q: You just bought a new vehicle during the COVID-19 upheaval. How did your Toyota dealer help you turn in the Prius and select a new vehicle? What was unusual about the process compared to normal times
COVID was actually the primary reason that we decided to get a car this week. Our lease was scheduled to be up in August so, prior to COVID, I had already started to reach out to our local Toyota dealer to see if we might get a RAV4 Hybrid. Unfortunately, as most people are aware, RAV4 Hybrids are selling like crazy and there is a waitlist to get a new build. The dealer told us that wait times (prior to COVID) were anywhere from 3 to 6 months so I started to panic. If our lease finished and there were no RAV4 hybrids on the lot, we would either be without a car or forced to purchase something that we didn't really want (unless we could get a lease extension, of course).
Once COVID hit in March, the pressure turned up significantly. Not only was there a pre-existing waitlist for the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, but the Toyota factory announced a shutdown and we knew that our chances of having a car ready by August were looking pretty bleak. I reached out to the dealer and told him to keep an eye out for anyone who drops out of a deal due to financial challenges and to call me right away. About a week later, John at Comox Valley Toyota called me to let me know that a couple in their 80s who had been waiting for the RAV4 was forced to back out as they had sadly lost a significant amount of money when their investments crashed as a result of the pandemic. I acted right away and was at the dealership test driving that night.
Due to the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid's huge popularity, we didn't have a choice of trim or color. We got a white XLE. The rest of the buying process was quite standard from there - apart from the new social distancing measures in place at the dealership (plexiglass barrier on the finances guy's desk, no handshakes, no ride along on my test). It was pretty clear that sales had slowed down, and I got the impression that the sales staff were eager to close the deal. Since we are new to this community, we were really worried that would work against us in the financing process, but the manager there did a great job completing the financing. Other than the social distancing stuff and the dealer's extra flexibility, it was a pretty straight forward and normal process.
If you have recently purchased a new vehicle, please tell us how the process went for you. Your account may help a fellow shopper be better prepared.
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin.
Images courtesy of Jamie Hoskins. Please don't reproduce or re-use these images without permission.