Electric vehicle startupslike Tesla were not only pioneers of a completely new kind of automotive technology, but a new kind of
car buyingexperience as well. Both EV companies and customers alike enjoy perks from the direct-to-consumer, online-only business model, but according to a new survey, 74 percent of respondents said they would still prefer to buy an EV at a dealership.
Read on with the car ownership experts at Jerry to learn more about what prospective EV-owners had to say about the car-buying experience, and what it could mean for the future of dealerships.
Convenience isn’t everything
In the current era of online shopping and same-day delivery, business models like Tesla’s online-only ordering are appealing to many consumers for their accessibility and convenience. Since 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic only amplified this consumer desire.
There are some transactions, however, like buying a home or shopping for a car, that need to be done in person.
Inside EVs, the survey authored by the EVForward team, part of advisory firm Escalent, included 1,289 people. Only 88 of those surveyed owned EVs already. The study was then grouped into those who were likely to shop for an EV, those who were open to it, and those who were more comfortable shopping for cars with an internal combustion engine.
The survey found that in general, those who were interested in buying an EV were most comfortable with a shopping experience that happens both online and in person.
Car dealerships are still important to EVs
While early adopters of electric vehicles sprung at the opportunity to buy a car online, dealerships are still necessary when it comes to integrating EVs into the mainstream.
According to a study from the
Fuels Institute, the top
demographic for electric car ownersin 2019 was middle-aged white men who earn over $100,000 and own at least one other vehicle. Generally speaking, that’s people with disposable income, who can afford to take a calculated risk on something like car buying.
Shoppers with less disposable income are going to be keener to commit to a more involved shopping process that includes shopping around, visiting different dealerships, and trying to get the best price.
After all, dealerships aren’t just a place where customers can buy a car. The survey indicated that many shoppers also expect certain services that can only happen in person, such as
taking a test drive, negotiating for the best price, and finalizing the contract together with the dealer.
Many car owners also rely on dealerships for services such as regular maintenance. As reported by Inside EVs, K.C. Boyce, Escalent's vice president of powertrain innovation and energy transformation said, "people are much more comfortable taking their vehicle to a dealer than they are, for instance, having a mobile service unit coming out and doing it in their driveway or garage."
Is a car dealership the best option for the consumer?
At the end of the day, a combination of online and in-person shopping experiences offers the best of both worlds. After all, even Tesla has stores and service centers all across the nation where prospective buyers can talk to experts, ask questions, test drive vehicles, and take their cars in for repairs.
The dealership model isn’t dead, but it’s likely that it will continue to adapt to a changing marketplace where consumers want the convenience of things like car delivery and online browsing with the support of in-person features such as price negotiation and expert assistance.
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