By Dominic Tobin – The Sunday Times – August 7 2011

It’s comfortable in car dealerships, with its soft seats and warm cup of complimentary coffee. There’s the aroma of new cars and the satisfaction that comes from being indulged by a salesperson.

You know you could try to negotiate the price down by a few hundred pounds but haggling doesn’t seem the done thing. You’re not a cheapskate: your car is being built to order.

It’s a sales technique that has served franchised dealers well over many years, but is it destined to go the way of high street sales of book sand DVDs, which has been eclipsed by internet sites that offer cheaper deals?

Of the estimated 330,000 people who will order a new car on the September 1 registration plate (61), some 3,500 will buy from the internet, according to Mintel, a consumer research company. That may be a small proportion, but the figure has risen by 40% in three years and is projected to grow rapidly.

So how much money can you save, how safe is it and what are the different types of site? InGear helps you negotiate through the maze, by explaining what the sites are, the advantages over conventional dealerships and the nuts and bolts of how each quoted example operates. To illustrate the savings on offer, we have compared prices on a three-door Ford Fiesta 1.25 Zetec, with a manufacturers list price of £12,195.

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