Electric vehicle (EV) shoppers are accepting and understanding of current inventory limitations due to the chip shortage, and are changing their shopping behaviors in response. Consumers are willing to order their vehicle and wait for delivery, and a new report reveals the threshold to which they are willing to adapt.
A majority (70%) of new-vehicle buyers are willing to wait less than a month before they purchase or lease a different vehicle, with 46% willing to wait a few weeks and 24% 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.
Those are the latest findings of the new Dealer DeepDive report from EVForwardTM, the largest, most comprehensive study of the next generation of electric vehicle buyers. The dedicated platform was developed in 2019 by Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm with extensive experience counseling the world’s largest automotive companies. The Dealer DeepDive explores the role consumers want dealerships to play throughout the shopping and ownership experience, where dealers can better meet consumer expectations and how dealers can better support their EV customers.
“The US is trending toward a European model, where vehicles are built to order at the factory, but the system needs to evolve to support timely delivery,” said Nikki Stern, Automotive & Mobility senior insights manager at Escalent. “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.”
While nearly one in four consumers would purchase an EV directly from the auto manufacturer, 94% of consumers reported contacting a dealership the last time they shopped for a vehicle, revealing the critical role dealerships play during the shopping process. Dealers are top of mind for consumers when seeking information on warranties, rebates and incentives, and over-the-air (OTA) updates. Consumers also see dealerships as providing essential services—with more than 50% of consumers thinking dealers should continue to:
During the past several years, many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and EV specialist brands started shifting toward an online sales approach. However, fewer than half of survey respondents would be comfortable if the vehicle shopping, purchasing/leasing, and maintenance phases were shifted completely online or at the consumer’s home. For earlier phases in the vehicle purchase process—such as learning about model and powertrain options, as well as learning about trims, features and colors—online or in-person preferences are mixed. As consumers move down the purchase funnel closer to delivery and maintenance, the desire to handle things in person at the dealership is stronger.
“Consumers have an array of preferences that vary widely across age and EV intention groups,” said K.C. Boyce, vice president in Escalent’s Automotive & Mobility and Energy divisions. “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.”
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This EVForward DeepDive was conducted among a national sample of 1,289 respondents—with 88 EV Owners (49 Tesla owners and 39 non-Tesla BEV owners), 263 EV Intenders, 446 EV Open and 492 EV Resistant respondents as identified by Escalent algorithms—between May 17 and June 7, 2022. Quantitative results were complemented by nine qualitative interviews with EV Intender respondents, in addition to four separate interviews with dealership managers across the country. These respondents are a subset of the EVForward database, a global sample of more than 50,000 new-vehicle buyers age 18 to 80, weighted by age, gender, race and location to match the demographics of the new-vehicle buyer population and by vehicle segment to match current vehicle sales. The sample for this research comes from an opt-in online panel. As such, any reported margins of error or significance tests are estimated and rely on the same statistical assumptions as data collected from a random probability sample. Escalent will supply the exact wording of any survey question upon request.