Ford F-150 Lightning.jpg
Positive review from a Ford F-150 Lightning customer who was among a select group of consumers invited to drive the all-electric pickup at Ford’s Dearborn, MI, test track in April.

Dealers Can Sway BEV Buyers, Snag Sales from Start-Ups

The buzz around BEV start-ups is solid, but legacy automakers have an edge in snagging sales. The key is to satisfy customers’ needs.

Dealers representing legacy brands can snag interested battery-electric vehicle buyers no matter their franchise.

Although start-ups receive plenty of press coverage, a study shows buyers prefer to shop BEVs available from established automakers.

“For dealers, specifically, that is their market to lose,” K.C. Boyce, vice president- Escalent, tells Wards. “We looked at customer preferences, opinions and expectations and found not only are customers more attached to mainstream brands, but they prefer the (legacy) dealer purchasing processes.”

Brand DeepDive from EVForward, developed by Escalent, conducted the study that it claims is the most extensive and comprehensive report on the next generation of EV buyers.

The main takeaway for dealers is that all brands are in the equivalent of a horse race to satisfy BEV customers. Legacy brands have an edge and can gain market share if they meet buyers’ wish lists. To do so requires work by both the automaker and the dealer network, Boyce says.

The study found the top five values consumers want from an BEV are: dependability, long-lasting (44% of respondents); good value for money (42%); latest safety technologies (40%); inexpensive to maintain (38%); and innovative features and technologies (37%).

Tesla helped pioneer safety and other technologies, some of which set bars for other EV manufacturers, says Boyce. BEV shoppers are attracted to those innovations but also value traditional benefits such as value and dependability. Yet they look at EVs differently from vehicles with internal-combustion engines. Dealers can calm customers’ fears and ease their transition into green technology, adds Boyce.

“You need to understand the ecosystem they are getting into. How do you fuel an EV? How do you do that at home? How do you handle that on a road trip? That requires a different orientation that dealers can use,” says Boyce. “Dealers can say ‘You’re not only getting the car, but you’re also getting the charging; you’re getting everything that you need from us.’ If dealers don’t think that way, they could very well lose out.”

Media coverage and advertising strongly impact purchase decisions, says Boyce. Although Tesla continually receives and capitalizes on social media and press coverage, legacy brands can catch up.

“We’re seeing some pretty clear evidence in the study that when customers hear about (legacy) brands’ behaviors, it’s both positive for those brands themselves and increases purchase intent of those specific models,” he says. “The key is to satisfy consumers’ needs.”

TAGS: Retail
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