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After all is said and done, however, the final steps in the purchase process still take place in a dealership.

"Although we expect that increasing numbers of customers will go to the Access Toyota web site for information," says Nakatani, "we're also certain that most people will be more comfortable making the final arrangements at a dealership".

He also makes the point that, "at some point buying a car stops being a matter of pure logic and becomes an affair of the senses. You want to kick the tires. You want to see the colour of the paint and touch the upholstery. You want to take it out for a spin, and feel how the car corners, and listen to the sound the engine makes when you put your foot down. We can't give you that new car smell over the internet."