Ford has revealed plans to launch an online car sales pilot in the UK for customers to specify, finance and order new cars through the web.

Details for the pilot are currently thin, but customers will be able to order the new car for delivery to participating dealers and retail spaces or to a home address anywhere in the country.

The move comes shortly after Ford launched an online storefront in the US. Named ‘Ready.Shop.Go’, the US site is intended as a preparatory tool for an eventual visit to the dealership, as opposed to somewhere customers can order cars online from end-to-end.

Motor Finance understands the hope is to launch the pilot in Q2, at which point more details will be revealed.

In the meantime, Ford has also looked to begin selling its cars in other offline retail environments, in addition to dealerships.

As part of this, Ford announced a retail partnership with Next stores. Ford will open a five-car showroom in a refurbished Next store in Manchester’s Arndale shopping centre.

Test drives will be available from the Arndale Centre, and new cars can be handed over there. A new Ford team of 15 product experts and support staff are being recruited for Ford in Manchester Arndale, which is due to open in July.

The Arndale display will be changed regularly, and will initially feature new 2018 ranges including Fiesta, EcoSport and Mustang. All complementary online offers will be supported by Ford Options, the company’s Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) scheme, and be accompanied by Ford’s usual warranty and roadside assistance terms.

Andy Barratt, Ford of Britain chairman and managing director, said: “We have the most extensive dealership network, which has already received significant investment in new FordStores, Transit Centres and Mobile Service Vans to offer customers specialist retail, van and service assistance.

“These will remain to serve the many consumers wanting to visit a dealer. There is also a growing appetite to browse for cars in other retail environments and online which we are meeting with these new 2018 ventures.”