Study: Most EV Shoppers Still Prefer the Dealership Experience

Online sales are having a major impact across many industries, but it appears a large majority of people in the market for a new vehicle, including EVs, are not ready yet to make a purchase straight from the manufacturer.

According to a new survey conducted by EVForward, a division of Escalent, 74 percent of respondents would prefer to buy an EV at a dealership rather than from an automaker or third party.

People who own an EV or plan to buy one, as well as younger buyers are more likely to prefer buying directly from an automaker. However, a majority of each group still wants the dealership experience.

This is also true when it comes to maintenance and repairs. Despite the convenience of at-home servicing and pickup/delivery, the survey also found that consumers would rather take their vehicle to a dealer.

Overall, more than half of consumers think dealers should continue to:

  • Conduct repairs and services (69 percent)
  • Offer test drives (66 percent)
  • Handle vehicle purchases or leases—including pricing, negotiation and discounts (55 percent)
  • Hand over vehicle possession (52 percent)

 “The key to accommodating consumer preferences will be for dealers and manufacturers alike to offer an omnichannel approach, where consumers can seamlessly and effortlessly complete any phase of their buying in the channel they most prefer, whether in person or online,” said K.C. Boyce, vice president in Escalent’s Automotive & Mobility and Energy divisions.

What About Limited Inventories?

The EVForward survey also provides interesting insights about shoppers’ intentions in the context of supply chain disruptions and limited vehicle availability.

A majority (70 percent) of new-vehicle buyers are willing to wait less than a month before they purchase or lease a different vehicle, with 46 percent willing to wait a few weeks and 24 percent willing to wait only a few days. On the other hand, most agree seven weeks would be too long to wait for vehicle delivery and are unwilling to wait for that duration before pivoting to another vehicle purchase or lease.

“To improve turnaround time for ordered vehicles, OEMs can consider a variety of approaches, like allowing for more factory flexibility, reducing vehicle configuration options, or introducing ‘software unlockable hardware’ that allows customers to customize their vehicle at and after the point of purchase,” said Nikki Stern, Automotive & Mobility senior insights manager at Escalent.

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