Secret Shoppers: Traditional Dealers Better at Selling EVs


A line of Tesla Model 3 sedans sits parked outside a Tesla dealership.Conventional automakers who promote each electrical automobiles (EVs) and gasoline-powered vehicles present a greater procuring expertise than EV-only startups, based on a brand new examine.

Pied Piper Administration Firm is a analysis agency that makes use of secret customers to guage buyer satisfaction at automobile dealerships.

The corporate inquired about 1,657 luxurious vehicles on-line between July 2021 and June 2022 for its annual Prospect Satisfaction Index examine. It adopted up with in-person visits (for automakers that function dealerships) or telephone calls (for individuals who promote solely on-line) for about 1,096 of the vehicles.

Secret customers in contrast the helpfulness and responsiveness of gross sales workers at 25 luxurious automobile manufacturers.

The end result? Cadillac supplied the most effective shopper expertise, adopted by Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz. EV-only startup Rivian supplied the worst, with related on-line retailers Polestar and Lucid not far behind.

A New Gross sales Mannequin

Conventional automakers promote their vehicles by means of dealerships. The businesses that construct the vehicles don’t personal the dealerships. They’re separate corporations. However automakers work with committees of sellers to develop their gross sales practices. They attempt to make the expertise of shopping for a Lexus related whether or not you’re in Los Angeles or Minneapolis.

That model has dominated automobile gross sales within the U.S. for over a century.

The rise of electrical automobile startups has shaken up that system. Spurred by Tesla’s success, a raft of recent startups have begun promoting vehicles by means of their web sites or by means of dealerships operated instantly by the businesses that construct vehicles.

That gross sales model isn’t authorized in all places. State legal guidelines govern automobile gross sales, with some not permitting corporations to function their very own dealerships. That may result in some unusual circumstances. Tesla, for instance, operates “galleries” in sure states the place prospects can view vehicles however should purchase them on-line.

However the brand new system has some conventional automakers reconsidering.

During the last 12 months, a number of automakers have been in battle with dealerships over gross sales practices. Ford, GM, Hyundai, Nissan, and Subaru have all warned their very own sellers in opposition to some pricing practices. The federal authorities has even stepped in with a proposal to limit some dealership gross sales ways.

Ford’s CEO has even publicly mused about following Tesla’s instance and promoting vehicles on-line, turning the corporate’s dealership community into supply and repair facilities.

However the Previous One Could Work Higher

Nonetheless, Pied Piper’s examine says the outdated model could result in extra glad consumers.

That’s just a little shocking. Theoretically, an online-only retailer would have a neater time creating the same expertise for each purchaser than an organization that operates 1000’s of shops run by completely different companions.

“With an internet focus and few retail areas, these new EV manufacturers have a fantastic alternative to excel with telephone, chat, and electronic mail interactions with their prospects, to compensate for the shopper’s lack of an in-person expertise,” says Pied Piper CEO Fran O’Hagan. “Nonetheless, we have now discovered that when their prospects attain out for assist or with questions, they’re normally met with model reps who reply solely easy, scripted questions with out being proactively useful.”

With 19 years of expertise, Tesla has had extra time to excellent the model than another firm. However the model’s efficiency has worsened in every of the final 4 years. “As Tesla’s quantity has grown, the procuring expertise has not scaled with it,” Pied Piper says.

Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Rankings:

  1. Cadillac
  2. Infiniti
  3. Mercedez-Benz
  4. Acura
  5. Volvo
  6. Lexus
  7. BMW
  8. Jaguar
  9. Alfa Romeo
  10. Audi
  11. Porsche
  12. Maserati
  13. Aston Martin
  14. Lincoln
  15. Genesis
  16. Land Rover
  17. Lamborghini
  18. McLaren
  19. Rolls-Royce
  20. Ferrari
  21. Tesla
  22. Bentley
  23. Lucid
  24. Polestar
  25. Rivian


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