The article is skeptical, properly I think, of the "path dependence" explanation. (Across five generations of car buyers?) But this makes a lot of sense to me because I recently did a similar thing:
Desai speaks from experience. A few years ago, he decided to buy a Lexus. The process was short and sweet: he went online, found a price reference, called up a dealer and made an offer. Sure, with a little more time and cunning, the professor could have lowballed the salesperson and gotten himself a sweeter deal. But he says he opted for the simpler approach.