Traditional Car Companies Still Don’t Get It

Traditional Car Companies Still Don’t Get It

We recently surveyed eleven car manufacturers that sell electric vehicles (EVs) in the U.S., including Tesla, Hyundai, Ford, Nissan, Chevrolet, Volvo, Rivian, Audi, Jaguar, BMW, and Porsche. We found that only three out of the eleven provide an estimated delivery window online. 

While the failure to quote delivery times online may seem insignificant, it’s another example of how traditional automakers (some of which are making EVs) are in trouble. My view is that manufacturers who resist giving consumers the option to order online, or withhold basic data like quoting lead times, are operating from the 80-year-old “get the consumer into the store and pressure them to buy” sales model. Simply put, even the EV carmakers will be in trouble unless they embrace the online buying preferences of consumers.

The traditional dealer network is inherently ingrained in the current sales approach of traditional manufacturers. The basic methodology of this sales approach can be broken down into three steps.

  1. A sales representative tries to get as much information about a potential buyer over the phone.
  2. They manage to get the potential buyer into their showroom.
  3. Finally, they pressure the buyer into purchasing from inventory on hand. 

Looking at the data, how are the lead times trending?

Among the car manufacturers that provide lead times online, we’ve found that the average delivery time for a Tesla in the U.S. is 175 days, essentially fixed from the 172 days we observed on April 1st. The more expensive models, and those with additional customization, are taking longer for delivery. By comparison, the Volvo Polestar 2 (Long Range Single Motor – FWD) is quoting 130 days in the U.S. Estimated delivery time for Rivian (R1S and R1T) is only quoted once a preorder has been made.

I believe these elevated lead times are a combination of both tight supply and, more importantly, healthy demand. Tesla can’t make them fast enough. 

For the car manufacturers that do not provide lead times online, we called dealerships and asked if they would be able to provide that information. On average, the lead times for Chevrolet Bolt, Audi e-tron Sportback Premium, and Jaguar I-Pace HSE are 135 days, 210 days, and 150 days, respectively. Orders are currently closed for the 2022 Mustang Mach-E, and orders for the 2023 Mach-E are not yet open. Lastly, dealers for Hyundai, Nissan, BMW, and Porsche were not able to provide an estimated delivery window due to uncertainty.

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