Going to the car dealership is often a stressful experience. There’s usually haggling involved, and there’s always the fear of being sold on a completely unnecessary upsell. But the rise in popularity of EVs could change the car-buying experience, making the whole process more straightforward and less anxiety-inducing.
Here’s a look at how electric vehicles are changing the car-buying process for a better consumer experience.
Digital Sales Will Become More Common
Many electric vehicles will be bought and sold entirely online, which could take the in-person haggling out of the equation.
“The automotive industry is on the brink of a transformational shift as electric vehicles gain momentum and digital sales become increasingly prevalent,” said Ben Waterman, co-founder of Strabo, a global consumer portfolio tracking platform. “The traditional car-buying process, often associated with haggling at the dealership, is poised for a significant overhaul. While experts hold varying opinions on the extent of these changes, there is a consensus that the rise of EVs will lead to a more digital and online car-buying experience.”
While some consumers may still opt to buy cars in person, the ability to buy online will become more widespread and available to those who want it.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable making significant purchases online, and automakers are adapting to this evolving preference,” Waterman said. “Online platforms provide a wealth of information, enabling consumers to compare models, features and prices from the comfort of their homes. Virtual showrooms, interactive 3D vehicle tours and augmented reality experiences further enhance the online car-buying process, allowing customers to make more informed decisions.”
Pricing Will Be More Transparent and Universal
Electric vehicles lend themselves to price transparency in a way that traditional vehicles do not.
“The transparency of EV pricing, driven by factors such as standardized government incentives and fewer variations in powertrain options, reduces the traditional negotiation tactics associated with combustion engine vehicles,” Waterman said. “Instead, prices are likely to become more fixed, leveling the playing field for consumers and streamlining the purchase process.”
This is already standard practice among some major automakers.
“Traditional automakers like Ford require its EV-selling dealers to offer zero markups on vehicles, and you can get transparent pricing online,” said Peter Glenn, founder and co-CEO of EV Life, a platform for EV shoppers to get financing.
“Additionally, newer EV-focused automakers like Tesla and Rivian do not have the burden of car dealerships with commission-based sales teams,” he continued. “Therefore, you can buy online or purchase at a showroom from non-commission-based staff without any haggling on price.”
The Buying Process Will Become More Streamlined
Buying a car can easily become an all-day or even multi-day affair, but the ways EVs are bought is likely to make the process more efficient.
“The move towards digital and online car sales has the potential to improve the overall car-buying experience for consumers,” Waterman said. “It eliminates the often stressful and time-consuming negotiation process, empowering buyers to focus on the aspects that truly matter to them, such as vehicle features, range and charging infrastructure. Additionally, online sales reduce the geographical limitations imposed by physical dealerships, enabling consumers to access a wider range of inventory and potentially secure better deals.”
Making the whole car-buying process digital also makes it more streamlined.
“Digital platforms can simplify the car-buying process by offering intuitive interfaces, interactive tools and online configurators that enable customers to customize their vehicles, compare prices and explore financing options,” Glenn said. “This streamlined process can save invaluable time and effort for consumers.”
The Downsides of Digital Car Sales
While there are many pros to the digital car-buying experience that will become propelled through EV sales, there are some challenges as well.
“Concerns over trust and the inability to physically inspect and test drive vehicles remain valid,” Waterman said. “Addressing these concerns will require robust online customer support, comprehensive vehicle information and convenient return policies. Moreover, as the online marketplace becomes increasingly crowded, consumers may face information overload and the challenge of distinguishing reliable sources from unreliable ones.”
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