Car Shoppers Prefer Traditional Dealerships

By Staff Writer September 24, 2021

Car shoppers—including millennials—prefer the traditional dealer-centric car shopping experience to direct retail by nearly a three-to-one margin. Further, nearly one-third of shoppers expect to lean on a car dealer as a primary source of information as they evaluate electric vehicles (EVs).

Those are the latest findings of a new Dealer DeepDive report from EVForward, the most comprehensive study of the next generation of electric vehicle buyers. The dedicated platform was developed in 2020 by Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm with extensive experience counseling the world’s largest automotive companies.

The study’s respondents have sent a clear message regarding traditional and emerging car shopping models:

  • 57% prefer the traditional approach to car buying, while just 20% prefer Tesla’s direct retail model.
  • 94% of respondents younger than 35 are satisfied with dealerships—the highest of any group. Among all groups, 87% indicate satisfaction with dealerships.
  • Further, a majority prefer that many of the phases of the car-buying process take place in-person rather than virtually:
    • Purchase - 75%
    • Arranging for financing - 60%
    • Taking delivery of the vehicle (at dealership as opposed to at home) - 85%
    • Repairs and service (as opposed to tech coming to home) - 79%

“Car shoppers are sending a clear message to automakers—they like the traditional dealer model and prefer to handle much of the shopping process in-person,” said Mike Dovorany, vice president of automotive and mobility at Escalent and head of EVForward. “Further, EV Intenders—respondents identified by EVForward as the next generation of EV buyers—show a keen interest in making the car dealer experience a core part of their information-gathering, shopping and decision-making processes.”

When asked which sources they are most likely to use when learning about electric vehicles, 63% of EV Intenders indicate test driving an EV is important—the most of any source of information available. Additionally, 31% of all respondents indicate a dealership salesperson would be among their primary sources of information. Automakers must seize this key opportunity in what is growing to be a competitive race for shoppers’ attention and consideration.

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Last modified on Thursday, 30 September 2021 14:35