When Covid hit in 2020, the automotive industry was forced to adapt. Shutdowns across the globe created shortages and uncertainty which significantly affected the operation of dealerships. As we seem to be in the “post-covid” phase, it’s important for dealers to understand the shifts that the pandemic caused in the industry. In this article, we’re going to look at three car buying trends that have changed since the beginning of the pandemic.
Many dealerships still have their focus primarily on selling and buying gas-powered vehicles. While there certainly needs to be a huge focus on that, there also needs to be a concerted effort into selling and buying electric vehicles. Since covid started, it’s clear that more people are looking at buying an electric vehicle. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, between November 2020 and June 2021, interest in electric vehicles increased from 39% of car buyers to 48% of car buyers. The one caveat to this for dealerships is to consider where you’re located. While it’s great owning an electric vehicle in a big town or city due to the amount of charging stations, if you live way out in the boonies, owning an electric car may not be so convenient as there will be limited if any public charging stations.
When Covid first hit, many dealerships were forced to close temporarily and then limit their customers in the showroom. On top of this, many customers weren’t comfortable enough going to a dealership. This forced dealerships to quickly adapt and shift the car buying process to a completely online process. While multiple reports tell different stories, there is no doubt that online car buying is increasing. According to an Autotrader report, 2 out 3 car shoppers were most likely to buy a car completely online, but according to a Deloitte survey, they found only 29% of car shoppers would consider buying a vehicle completely online. That Deloitte survey also revealed that the two biggest reasons people want to buy in person is because they want to be able to physically see the vehicle and test drive the vehicle. Overall, we can see online car shopping is on the rise as in 2017, only 3% of customers were looking at online dealerships compared to today where over 20% of customers are looking at online dealerships.
It’s impossible to deny the convenience of at-home delivery and the ability to test drive a vehicle for 48 hours to make a decision on buying it or not. According to a survey done by Google, the at-home test drive was the most preferred service of car shoppers. This shouldn’t be hard to believe, and if you are questioning this, just take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Home deliveries and contactless interactions are being used in all industries from big box stores to groceries, and restaurants.
Knowing these three trends, you need to ensure you can adapt to the evolving trends. Perhaps you need to start putting more of a focus on electric vehicles. Seeing that online car buying is on the rise, it would be wise to ensure your website is set up to allow buyers to go through the entire process online. Lastly, if you’re not already equipped for delivery and at-home test drives, consider incorporating this at your dealership right away!
Volkswagen has announced that it has selected Ontario as the location for its first overseas battery manufacturing plant. This new plant will play a key role in Volkswagen's plan to shift towards electric vehicles, as it will produce batteries for their upcoming electric models.
For decades, the motto of the automotive industry has been one of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Then we were hit by the pandemic and the industry had to adapt in a major way in order to survive. The result of this was dealers were forced to create a digital retail process. This also meant salespeople had to change how they operate on a daily basis and adapt to this new digital retail environment.
Canadian drivers are increasingly choosing electric vehicles as a means to save money on gas and lessen their environmental effects. As a car dealer, this gives you a chance to sell more electric vehicles (EVs) and possibly turn them into one of your dealership's main sales focuses.