Tesla dealerships were ranked highest in the newly released 2019 Pied Piper PSI for EVs U.S. auto industry benchmarking study, which measured treatment of electric vehicle (EV) shoppers. BMW and Nissan dealerships were ranked second and third, respectively. For 13 years, Pied Piper has used the Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) process, which ties mystery shopping measurement and scoring to industry sales success to measure how effectively dealerships help shoppers become buyers. For 2019, Pied Piper applied the same approach to create PSI for EVs to measure how effectively each EV brand’s retailers help customers who visit a dealership.
Successfully selling EVs depends upon many of the same salesperson behaviors that customers find helpful when shopping for traditional automobiles. However, because EVs rely on technology new to many customers, the salesperson must also be able to introduce and explain the operation of EVs and the features and benefits of EV technology.
Compared to the salespeople for other brands, Tesla salespeople were more likely on average to help customers understand garage charging options or to describe how to use national charging networks. BMW salespeople were more likely to explain EV incentives and rebates or to mention how vehicle range changes based upon driving conditions. Nissan salespeople were more likely to ask how the vehicle would be used to determine whether the battery range would be adequate or to describe one-pedal driving convenience.
Included in the study were brands selling battery electric vehicles (BEVs) (Tesla, BMW, Nissan, Jaguar, Chevrolet, Honda, Audi, Hyundai, and Kia) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) (Volvo, Mitsubishi, Mini, Chrysler, Toyota, Cadillac, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Subaru). Models were chosen from vehicles promoted on manufacturer websites. Two brands, Audi and Subaru, showed EV models online which were not yet present at their dealerships, so dealerships selling those vehicles were only able to accept orders.
“Imagine what it would have been like to sell a gas-powered automobile in the early 1900s,” said Fran O’Hagan, President and CEO of Pied Piper Management Company LLC. “Customers back then were buying their first car, and salespeople would have had to explain the basics, such as how to operate the vehicle or where to find fuel while traveling.” Similarly, industry research today finds that two-thirds of EV customers are first-time EV buyers. “EV sales are growing rapidly, and salespeople today play a critical role helping these new customers understand how EV technology will benefit them,” said O’Hagan.