For the first time in human history, you can now sit down on your favourite couch at home and buy a brand-new Ford. From the internet.
I suppose that's not really surprising. Nowadays, pretty much anything from anywhere in the world can be shipped direct to your door from the cloud. Just last month, I went shopping online and bought a new pair of blue shoes and a Lamborghini Urus, in yellow.
Well actually, that's not quite what happened.
It was a full month of nothing before I finally asked the seller about a tracking number for the parcel. And what "Shirleyomota" sent back was a message with a heading written entirely in what I presume was Chinese and "Hello dear", so I knew what to expect. Meanwhile, my bank had taken one look at a shoe site registered in the UK but obviously based in China and refused to hand anything over. Then I received a Ford Mustang GT, in yellow.
You've probably gathered by now that what I was dealing in were model cars, and it was all sorted in the end. But, just imagine for a moment if you could order a real Lamborghini Urus or Ford Mustang online. It would be brilliant.
Technology is all about fixing problems. Video Home Systems were clunky and cumbersome and the last person to borrow Ben-Hur from the library always forgot to rewind it. So along came DVDs. Which scratch too easily and can't be watched on your smartphone, so MP4 is around the corner.
Think about it - we don't have to haul our shower from a well, people don't die of smallpox or owning a Daihatsu Charade anymore, you don't have to get your fingers all inky changing the ribbon on a typewriter, and I could go on and on. Point is, it's all because every so often someone jumps out of a bathtub and runs through a city street naked. Shouting "Eureka", in case that was lost in translation.
It's the same with cars. Ignition no longer requires you to dislocate your shoulder while trying to spin a lever. You don't have to get out in the pouring rain to rub down the windscreen with half a potato. There is climate-controlled air-conditioning and power steering and anti-lock brakes and synchromesh gearboxes and ambient cabin lights that change colour. And pretty soon, we're told, we will be able to plug our car into the same socket as the toaster and drink freely from the pure spring water that flows from the exhaust pipe.
That's all mostly brilliant, but until now, no one has come up with a plan for abolishing the single worst problem with cars. The people who sell them.
A wolf in synthetic sheep's clothing (Credit: FriendlyKia.com).
There seems to be a trend at the moment that says car companies should open up showrooms inside shopping malls, probably to give men something to do. Here in Australia, Infiniti has one at the Gold Coast and there's a Subaru one in Melbourne. The UK actually has an entire company called "Rockar" that has created "stores" for Jaguar, Land Rover, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, and Ford. They might not have car salesmen or salesmen women in the strictest sense, but they still have "product experts", or as Rockar calls them, "Angels".
I can tell you straight away that if I were in the middle of a gruelling toss-up between having rubber coasters in my cupholders or not and someone came up to me and said, "Can I help your good self at all today, sir?", "Angel" wouldn't be the first word to come to mind.
I don't think I need to say exactly why having a plastic-suited tub of butter buzzing around your shoulder is so annoying. Ford conducted a poll in the US and found that 83% of people in the survey want to spend as little time in a dealership as possible. And these are Americans - the same people who happily and very loudly spill their life story onto you while in a lift.
In the past, the only way to avoid a dealership altogether was to buy a Tesla. Now though, you simply get out your smartphone or tablet or Mac PC and go online to the Ford "Shop". Set your budget, have your current car valued in case you want to trade it in, choose your new car - the model, the paint colour, the trim, all that, apply for finance if you want it, and then checkout. You can then either pick it up or have it delivered to your door, just like a book from Amazon.
If, when you see it in the metal for the first time, suddenly realise you were suffering from a hangover at the time of ordering, there is a window of opportunity when you can return it and receive a full refund. Again, just like a book.
Ford isn't alone in doing this. I found a news article a few weeks ago about a man who had bought a brand-new Mitsubishi ASX over a cup of coffee at work. Hyundai and Land Rover & Co have said they're on the way too.
Now, I know you're probably sitting there thinking that this is all a bit too good to be true. And there is a catch - it's only available in the UK. However, because this is quite possibly the greatest invention since tubes of condensed milk and has been rolled out within the last 12 months or so, it really is only a matter of time before everyone else can do it too.
Just don't ever try to order a Great Wall. For many reasons actually.