The coronavirus pandemic sped up dealerships' use of new technology , online tools and digital processes to sell vehicles.

Now, nearly a year after the COVID-19 illness reshaped the way Americans buy nearly everything, auto retailers across the country hope the pandemic-sparked e-commerce rush will eliminate the need for wet ink.

State franchised dealer associations have been working with state motor vehicle agencies and lobbying legislatures for years in a bid to allow electronic signatures, particularly on title and registration forms. Leaders of those dealer groups say those efforts have accelerated or remain a top priority given the pandemic.

They now have a path to success to follow. Florida, as an example, authorized electronic signatures on vehicle transactions through dealerships in March 2020 as the coronavirus started to spread in the U.S. Some dealerships in the state subsequently have been processing sales without the buyer ever having to put pen to paper, said Ted Smith, president of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association.

"The pandemic immediately brought what I've been asking for for two years," Smith told Automotive News . "Digital deals are in place in Florida for the future."

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