Mar 27, 2020 - Economy & Business

Car sales move online — maybe forever

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Car dealers are doing everything they can — including making house calls to deliver cars remotely — in hopes of preventing a total collapse of vehicle sales.

Why it matters: Few consumers have been willing to buy cars online the way they buy shoes. But among the many lifestyle changes we might see when this pandemic finally ends could be a desire to conduct more business remotely — including car shopping.

What's happening: With millions of Americans stuck at home, big dealership chains like AutoNation and Sonic Automotive are pushing their online-retailing services harder, reports the Wall Street Journal.

  • They're even sending salespeople to customers' homes — if allowed by social-distancing regulations — and making it easier to complete the purchase over the internet.
  • Some dealerships are also offering to pick up and drop off customers' cars for repairs or maintenance to try to keep their service departments busy and prevent layoffs.
  • The National Automobile Dealers Association has argued that dealerships and repair shops should be considered "essential services."

The bottom line, writes the Journal: "This may be the iPhone moment of transitioning to a more digital retail environment," said Tyson Jominy, auto analyst for J.D. Power.

Go deeper: House passes historic $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill

Go deeper

Cities are retooling public transit to lure riders back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

After being told for months to stay away from others, the idea of being shoulder to shoulder again in a bus or subway terrifies many people, requiring sweeping changes to public transit systems for the COVID-19 era.

Why it matters: Cities can't come close to resuming normal economic activity until large numbers of people feel comfortable using public transportation.

The policies that could help fix policing

 Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

George Floyd's death has reignited the long and frustrating push to reform a law enforcement system whose systemic flaws have been visible for years.

Why it matters: Solving these problems will require deep political, structural and cultural changes, experts and advocates say — but they also point to a handful of specific policy changes that, while not a cure, would make a difference.

47 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus diagnostic test pricing is relatively tame

A medical professional administers a coronavirus test at a drive-thru testing site run by George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Anecdotes of labs charging thousands of dollars for coronavirus diagnostic tests are the exception rather than the rule, according to data provided to Axios by a national health insurer.

Yes, but: Some labs that don’t contract with the insurer charged rates that are multiple times higher than what Medicare pays for the diagnostic tests, and in some scenarios, patients may be at risk of receiving surprise bills.