With sales slipping—down 12% in 2016, according to Automative News—Cadillac is considering going virtual with some of its 925 dealerships. First and foremost, having a dealership that doesn't need to contain actual cars would drastically reduce overhead, the Wall Street Journal reports. Secondly, PC Magazine believes virtual dealerships could help make Cadillac seem a little cooler to buyers currently flocking to Tesla. Virtual Cadillac dealerships would let potential buyers check out models using virtual reality headsets. They may also have a few "tester cars" on hand for test drives. Volvo is trying something similar, letting customers use virtual reality to instantly experience their customized vehicles.
Cadillac executives will spend this month trying to convince some of its smaller dealerships to switch over to virtual showrooms. That's going to he a hard sell, according to some dealers, who think this is just a way to get small dealerships that don't sell many Cadillacs to close their doors. It can be expensive for automakers to force dealerships to close because of franchise agreements. The virtual showrooms are part of an overhaul of Cadillac dealerships called "Project Pinnacle." It splits dealerships into five tiers based on how many Cadillacs they sell then mandates what kind of service each tier needs to provide. (Read more virtual reality stories.)